In Focus

Pakistan overcome a World Cup curse against India

Symbolic significance of the crushing ten-wicket win should not be underestimated

Pakistan entered this year’s ICC Men’s T20 World Cup having never once beaten India in 12 attempts in World Cup matches, said Anand Vasu in The Guardian. But at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium on Sunday, they broke these shackles “in the most emphatic fashion possible”, with a crushing ten-wicket victory. 

Virat Kohli’s Indian side didn’t play badly, said Tim Wigmore in The Daily Telegraph. It’s just that their opponents played as if “powered by an elemental force”. In their towering, young quick bowler Shaheen Shah Afridi, Pakistan seem to have uncovered a “worthy successor” to such greats as Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis. His “mesmerising opening spell” – accounting for both India’s openers – laid the groundwork for his side’s victory. And when it was Pakistan’s turn to bat, Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan were all “pristine timing and silky placement” as they chased down India’s 151 with 13 balls to spare. 

‘What a night’

It isn’t hard to imagine the scenes across Pakistan, said Mike Atherton in The Times: the “families huddled around TV sets in every city, town and village in the land saying a silent prayer in thanks”. True, this was only a group-stage match, and so didn’t have all that much riding on it. Both sides will still probably qualify for the knock-out stages. But its symbolic significance should not be underestimated. After so much World Cup heartache against their greatest rivals, “what a night this was for Pakistan”.

The real deal

In their second Super 12 group two match, Pakistan secured a five-wicket win over New Zealand in Sharjah. Alongside England, they are now one of the “teams to beat” and look “well and truly the real deal”, said the official T20 World Cup website. Before the tournament Pakistan “weren’t exactly top billing”, The Times of India said, but things have “fallen in place very fast”.

Pakistan’s next fixtures are against Afghanistan in Dubai on Friday, Namibia in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday, and Scotland in Sharjah a week on Sunday.

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