Pakistan had beaten India in the Asia Cup just a fortnight ago, and one would have expected them to prepare well. But it wasn't to be. MS Dhoni dished out wise decisions one after the other: He picked three spinners, won the toss, put Pakistan in to bat – all according to the plan.
Pakistan were all over the place like a pack of headless chickens. A typical mix-up between Ahmed Shehzad and Kamran Akmal resulted in a run-out, where the latter returned after hitting a couple of boundaries. India started with spin, and kept the bowling tight throughout, cramping Hafeez and Shehzad for room. Left with no loose balls on offer, both batsmen anxiously succumbed to the spin prowess of Ravindra Jadeja and Amit Mishra and Pakistan were struggling at 47/3 in the 9th over.
Umar Akmal (33) and Shoaib Malik (18) then began the resurrection, adding 50 runs for the 4th wicket. But Malik was beaten by Mishra's turn and Akmal fell to Shami, followed by Shahid Afridi who couldn't pull off his magic with the bat. India conceded just 28 runs in the last three overs with no spinner bowling – something that the captain would be proud of. Pakistan managed to put up a meager 130 on the board, perhaps 15-20 runs short.
India didn't appear to be under any pressure, as the openers got off to a slow but steady start. Shikhar Dhawan looked miserably out of form, but his 28-ball 30 that included three fours off Saeed Ajmal, was enough to build the momentum. Rohit Sharma (24) looked much better with an improved strike rate, before he gave Ajmal his only wicket. Virat Kohli then walked in, scampering his way to an unbeaten 36 in company of Suresh Raina (35) to deliver one of the easiest wins for India.
Yuvraj Singh's dismissal midway was worrisome, but there were no signs of panic whatsoever. Kohli and Raina quietly kept the scoreboard ticking, whilst also seeing off Ajmal's dangerous spin. India were through in just 18.3 overs.
India 131 for 3 (Kohli 36*, Raina 35*) beat Pakistan 130 for 7 (Umar Akmal 33, Mishra 2-22) by 7 wickets
India will be looking to carry their winning momentum as they prepare to face defending champions West Indies in their second Group 2 game on March 23 at Mirpur.