Kolkata, March 19 (IANS) A disciplined bowling effort assisted by a pitch which was turning from the outset helped India restrict Pakistan to a modest 118/5 in a rain-curtailed World Twenty 20 encounter at the Eden Gardens here on Saturday.
Put into bat first after the match was reduced to 18-overs a side, Pakistan managed to set India an asking rate of 6.61 runs per over with Shoaib Malik (26) being the top scorer.
For India, spinners Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja returned economical figures of 0/12 and 1/20, respectively.
Pakistan got off to a slow but steady start with their openers Ahmed Shahzad and Sharjeel Khan picking up singles and the odd boundaries.
Off spinner Ravichandran Ashwin was able to get quite some purchase off the Eden strip from his very first over. He got the leading edge of Ahmed Shahzad of his sixth delivery which popped up in no man’s land and then repeated the same against Sharjeel in his next over but again there was nobody to grab it.
At the other end, Ashish Nehra and Jasprit Bumrah were able to keep a tight leash on the willowers, who managed only 24 in their power play of five overs.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni was quick to get his part-time off spinner Suresh Raina in after seeing the pitch turn and he struck right away by getting rid of Sharjeel. The left-hander’s mistimed loft was gobbled up by Hardik Pandya who took an outstanding catch diving forward much to the delight of the 67,000 vociferous supporters.
Shahid Afridi promoted himself up the batting order to have a go, but he too found it difficult coping with the turn.
Shahzad, feeling the pressure at the other end, tried a heave against Bumrah but only managed to get it to point, where Jadeja took the catch running back a few steps.
After 10 overs, the visitors were 51/2.
With the innings running out of steam, Afridi (8) tried to belt a few against the inexperienced Hardik Pandya. But his first hoik against the youngster ended straight down the throat of Virat Kohli at long on, in the 12th over.
Malik and Umar Akmal then got together to carry forward the innings. The duo struck Pandya for 15 runs in the 14th over which included two big sixes. Malik followed it up with another great over as he smashed Bumrah for two consecutive boundaries.
But then, Akmal (22) and Malik departed in quick succession which pegged Pakistan back further.