Dhaka, Mar 18: Virat Kohli's brilliant knock of 183 steered India to their highest ever One Day International successful chase of 330, defeating Pakistan by six wickets to keep their Asia Cup final hopes alive at the Sher-e-Bangla Stadium in Mirpur on Sunday.
[Scorecard: India vs Pakistan, March 18]
Kohli's 148-ball 183 (22x4, 1x6), supported by half centuries from Sachin Tendulkar and Rohit Sharma, steered India to 330/4 in 47.5 overs after twin tons from Pakistan openers had pushed them to 329/6 in 50 overs.
Kohli walked out to bat in the third ball of the innings and was dismissed after leaving India at the doorstep of victory, needing just 12 runs from 18 deliveries. He batted for 211 minutes. This was his second century of the tournament. He made 108 against Sri Lanka last Tuesday and later added 66 in a losing cause against Bangladesh on Friday.
Pakistan with nine points from the league stage, have qualified for the final. India, with eight points, are still not guaranteed of a spot in the final. If Sri Lanka beat Bangladesh on Tuesday or a tie or no result will put India in the summit clash on March 22, Thursday. Bangladesh need to win to make the final.
India's best ever chase before this game was 326/8 against England in the Natwest tri-series final at Lord's in 2002. That match was famous for captain Sourav Gangly waving his shirt from the Lord's balcony but this time around no such celebrations!
This was also highest successful chase by India against Pakistan beating their previous best of 316/7 in 1998 in Dhaka during the Independence Cup at the Bangabandhu Stadium.
Kohli's 11th ODI ton and seventh in chases, was full of fine strokes all around the field. Kohli was magnificent right from the start and continued to flourish, first in the company of Tendulkar and then Rohit.
Yet again, India won chasing after the opposition had registered two centuries. On February 28, 2012, Kohli's 133 not out cancelled out Tillakaratne Dilshan and Kumar Sangakkara's tons in Hobart as India chased down 321 under 40 overs.
Man-of-the-match Kohli has now scored three centuries and a fifty in his last four games. He is now the leading run scorer in this Asia Cup with 357 runs at an average of 119. Kohli's 183 is also highest the individual score in Asia Cup history, eclipsing Younis Khan's 144 against Hong Kong in 2004 (Colombo).
Kohli also moved up the India's highest individual scores' table. He is now joint fourth with MS Dhoni (183 not out) and Sourav Ganguly (183). The list is topped by Virender Sehwag (219) followed by Tendulkar in second (200 not out) and third (186).
The 23-year-old right-hander also shares the highest individual top score by an Indian in chases. His and Dhoni's are the best in India's second batting efforts.
India's chase did not get off to a good start as offspinner Mohammad Hafeez trapped Gautam Gambhir LBW for a two-ball duck in the first over. However, Tendulkar and Kohli played aggressively to ward off the early threat from Pakistan.
Tendulkar (52) looked in fine touch. He played freely to reach his 96th ODI half century. The Master Blaster appeared to have been a relieved man after reaching the 100th international century milestone in the previous game against Bangladesh.
His strokeplay was pleasing on the eye. A free flowing Tendulkar, however, was consumed by a Saeed Ajmal's doosra. Only Ajmal seemed to trouble the Master as he scored only three runs in the offspinner's seven balls before being caught at first slip by Younis Khan.
Tendulkar and Kohli's 133-run second wicket stand in 19.1 overs was crucial in putting India on track after that early blow of Gambhir.
Soon after Tendulkar's departure, Rohit Sharma came to the crease and he along with Kohli continued the good work. One more hundred-run association blossomed for India. Kohli and Rohit partnered for 172 runs in 26.2 overs.
After taking his time to settle, Rohit reached his 12th ODI half century in 80th game. He too was in good nick, playing some delightful shots.
Pakistan's bowlers looked ordinary as Kohli dominated them. Umar Gul took two wickets while Ajmal and Mohammad Hafeez had one each.
Pakistan Innings Report
Indian bowling yet again failed in a crunch game as twin hundreds powered Pakistan to a mammoth 329/6 in 50 overs in the Asia Cup at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium on Sunday.
Openers Mohammad Hafeez (105) and Nasir Jamshed (112) associated for 224 runs for the first wicket in 35.5 overs to put their team on course for a big total.
Indian bowling looked ordinary in perfect batting conditions. They had faltered against Bangladesh on Friday and the same story continued at the same venue. Captain MS Dhoni used eight bowlers but all failed to make an impact. Only Ashok Dinda and Ravichandran Ashwin went for less than six runs per over. Dinda, Praveen Kumar took two wickets apiece while Irfan Pathan and Ashwin dismissed one batsman each.
It was Hafeez and Jamshed's show in this high voltage clash between the two arch rivals. Hafeez scored his fourth ODI hundred while Jamshed got to his maiden 50-over International century. The right-handed Hafeez is playing his 98th ODI while it was 15th game for the left-handed Jamshed.
Later Younis Khan made a quick 34-ball 52 to put Pakistan ahead at the innings break.
Shahid Afridi, when on 1, completed 7,000 ODI runs in his 341st match. He made his debut against Kenya in 1996.
India, who chased down 321 in less than 40 overs recently in Hobart against Sri Lanka, have the ability to repeat that incredible effort. But the Pakistan bowling attack looks better than India's and the batsmen have their task cut out under the lights.
One more worry for India is Sachin Tendulkar's hand injury. He was off the field for most of Pakistan's innings after hurting his hand attempting a return catch from Jamshed in the 26th over. Tendulkar bowled 1.4 overs before going off the field for treatment.
Toss: Pakistan win toss, to bat first
Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq won the toss and elected to bat first against India.
India made one change to their line-up from Bangladesh game, bringing Yusuf Pathan for Ravindra Jadeja. MS Dhoni said Jadeja is not fit for this game.
Pakistan too opted for one change, replacing wicketkeeper Sarfraz Ahmed with left-arm fast bowler Wahab Riaz. He had taken five wickets against India in the World Cup semi-final last year. Umar Akmal will take the gloves behind the stumps.
Former India captain Sunil Gavaskar said that the pitch is full of runs and the contest will be between Indian batsmen versus Pakistan bowler.
"This is the same surface on which the first match (Pakistan vs Bangladesh) was played. It is full of runs. It will be a tremendous contest as all India-Pakistan matches are. It will be between India batsmen versus Pakistan bowlers. A mouthwatering contest and I can't wait for the first ball to be played," Gavaskar said during the pitch report.
India have to win today to have hopes of qualifying for the final. If they lose they will be out of the competition and Pakistan will go through.
If India win today, it will put Sri Lanka out of the tournament. India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, all three teams will have chance to make the summit clash on March 22. The last league game of the four-nation competition is between Sri Lanka and Bangladesh on Tuesday.
This is the first meeting between the arch rivals since the World Cup 2011 semi-final, which India won last year in Mohali.
Pakistan: Misbah-ul-Haq (captain), Mohammad Hafeez, Nasir Jamshed, Younis Khan, Umar Akmal, Hammad Azam, Shahid Afridi, Saeed Ajmal, Umar Gul, Aizaz Cheema, Wahab Riaz.
India: MS Dhoni (captain and wicketkeeper), Virat Kohli (vice-captain), Sachin Tendulkar, Gautam Gambhir, Rohit Sharma, Suresh Raina, R Ashwin, Praveen Kumar, Yusuf Pathan, Irfan Pathan, Ashok Dinda.
Umpires: Steve Davis (Australia) and Ian Gould (England)
Third Umpire: Sharfuddoula (Bangladesh)
Match Referee: David Boon (Australia