It reads more like a tennis score line — 6-0 — but Team India repeated World Cup history Sunday as they demolished Pakistan by 76 runs at a noisy Adelaide Oval, opening their title defence in style.
The tournament’s biggest game lived up to its top billing and played to a full and frenzied house. Indian fans filled up almost two-thirds of the stadium, outnumbering Pakistani supporters who looked like a few specks of green in a sea of blue. Every run, dot ball and wicket was cheered lustily — the subcontinent had arrived Down Under.
The total proved too big for Pakistan. They were bowled out for 224 in 47 overs, failing to break the jinx haunting them since 1992.
When the two teams play, record books are never too far. His Sunday’s innings make Kohli the first Indian batsman to score a century against Pakistan in the World Cup, surpassing his idol Sachin Tendulkar’s 98 at Centurion in 2003.
His partnership with Shikhar Dhawan (73) set a new Indian record against Pakistan in a World Cup match — 129 runs for the second wicket.
Suresh Raina, who came in at the fall of Dhawan, made a quickfire 74 off 56, giving India the perfect platform to push for a win.
For skipper Misbah-ul-Haq, who scored the highest 76 runs of the Pakistan innings, his effort was again in a losing cause. He had top-scored with 56 when the teams had clashed in the last edition’s semi-final only to see his side lose to Dhoni’s men.
The Bhangra beats and the dancing never stopped in the stands, not even when Pakistan supporters began to leave with more than 15 overs to go.
The chase had started badly. Younis Khan (6) was out with the total at 11. The team recovered a bit but lost three wickets for one run in nine deliveries to slump to 103-5.
India’s pace battery, which had come in for flak ever since the team landed in Australia, worked well together and proved difficult to even score singles of.
As the pressure and asking rate climbed, Pakistan erred in shot selection.
India erupted in joy when Umesh Yadav caught Sohail Khan off Mohit Sharma. Crackers were fired and sweets passed around. President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Narendra Modi led the nation in congratulating the team. It was as good as winning the cup.
“The pressure is now off India…For me, India has won the World Cup today!” S Shriram, a software professional, told AFP.
Skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni said an India-Pakistan match is always more than just a game. “It is a relief... Now that this match is over, we can look forward to the rest of the tournament,” he said.
A distraught Misbah admitted he didn’t know how to stop India at the World Cup. “I don’t know. This is happening. You can’t do anything about that.”
Across the border, the mood was pensive. Angry fans smashed TV sets in the port city of Karachi, which virtually fell silent.
A week from Sunday, India will take on South Africa in Melbourne. The Proteas, the perpetual World Cup bridesmaid, beat Zimbabwe in another Pool B game during the day.
Scorecard: India vs Pakistan