COLOMBO (Reuters) - India, led by a superb unbeaten 78 from Virat Kohli, kept their Twenty20 World Cup hopes alive with an emphatic eight-wicket win over arch-rivals Pakistan in the Super Eights on Sunday.
India dismissed their neighbours for a paltry 128 with Lakshmipathy Balaji taking three for 22 before Kohli tore into the Pakistan attack in a match-winning knock made off 61 balls.
Kohli, who hit two sixes and nine fours, was supported by Virender Sehwag (29) and Yuvraj Singh with an unbeaten 19 as India cruised home with three overs to spare.
Man-of-the match Kohli, missed on 42 and 64, also bowled Pakistan captain Mohammad Hafeez and finished with figures of one for 21 in three overs.
Pakistan, who chose to bat first, were bowled out for 128 in 19.4 overs, Shoaib Malik (28) and Umar Akmal (21) lifting the 2009 winners with a 47-run partnership for the sixth wicket.
Ravichandran Ashwin and Yuvraj captured two wickets each.
“Today’s performance was a really a good one because the part timers contributed, the spinners bowled well and also the fast bowlers,” India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni told reporters.
“The first two overs we gave away bit of runs. But after that I felt we were quite consistent.”
When asked if India have now found the right combination after a humiliating nine-wicket defeat by Australia, Dhoni said: “Whatever suits the conditions the best, we look to play that. So it depends on what kind of wicket we are playing on.”
Hafeez said Pakistan was looking for a target of around 150 to 160 runs after deciding to bat first.
“We couldn’t set the total we really wanted. There is no doubt Virat was excellent today. We really wanted to win the game. But unfortunately we were losing wickets on a regular basis. We couldn’t come back in the last 10 overs,” he said.
“He (Kohli) is in the best form. I haven’t seen anyone in the form he is at the moment.”
India and South Africa were facing the exit door after Australia’s earlier win over the South Africans but India’s victory kept Group Two wide open.
Australia look virtually certain to reach the last four and the other three teams all still have a chance of progressing.
Reporting by Shihar Aneez, editing by Josh Reich and Ed Osmond