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Kohli "Klassic" takes India home in record chase

An epic 183 from Virat Kohli helped India chase down a record 329 against Pakistan in the Asia Cup at Mirpur. India bettered their previous best of chasing 326 against England in the NatWest Trophy in 2002, en route to a six wicket victory today.

The “Big Daddy” of all derbies lived up to the expectations with both teams producing a run feast. Chasing an enormous 329 to win, India put up a superior batting display. Virat Kohli, scoring his seventh hundred in an Indian run chase, anchored the innings while Sachin Tendulkar and Rohit Sharma contributed handsomely to take India home.

After losing Gautam Gambhir (0) in the first over to Md. Hafeez, Sachin Tendulkar and Virat Kohli got into the repair job and added 133-runs for the 2nd wicket. The pair went into an attacking mode and put up an exhibition of top class stroke play as the Pakistani bowlers panicked and crumbled.

Sachin Tendulkar, relived from the pressures of his 100th ton, was at his vintage best. The cover drive, the scoop over the slips, the slog sweep and the back foot punch through the offside signaled that the Master was in his zone. His breezy innings of 52 off 48 deliveries was cut short when he edged a doosra from Saeed Ajmal to first slip.

Virat Kohli’s purple patch got darker as he scored the highest by an Indian against Pakistan in ODIs. After a nippy opening burst from Umar Gul, that made both Kohli and the keeper Umar Akmal hop, the stylish right-hander got back into his groove to play his flowing drives and crispy flicks off the hips. The 23 year old carted the Pakistani bowling all round the dial elegantly to prove why he is the most exciting talent in the world.

Rohit Sharma (68) played the ideal foil to Kohli and brought an end to his miserable run with the bat after the West Indies series at home last year. The two young Indian batsmen took full toll of a deflated Pakistani unit and added 172 in 26 overs to seal the game for India.

Earlier, Pakistan made full use of a batting deck after winning the toss. The openers set the match up for them after adding 224 - Pakistan’s second-highest in ODIs. Both Md. Hafeez and Nasir  Jamshed scored hundreds to give Pakistan a dream start in this all important encounter.

Hafeez (105) and Nasir (115) took full advantage of the lack luster bowling performance from India. The Indian bowling lacked penetration and was at its wayward best. The bowlers sprayed the ball on both sides of the wicket and erred in length as Hafeez and Nasir made merry of such hospitality. The hospitality was further extended when Sachin Tendulkar failed to hold on to a return catch from Nasir. The drop catch left Tendulkar with a sore finger and barred him from fielding for the rest of the innings.

Nasir played cultured cricket shots while Hafeez looked solid. Both openers ran hard between the wickets and deposited the bad balls over the line. The unique feature of the opening partnership was the way they rotated the strike making it difficult for the bowlers to adjust to a left and right combination.

The openers, however, departed in quick succession in the batting power-play when Nasir top edged one from Ashwin and Hafeez missed a slower one from Dinda to be caught in front of his stumps.

The finishing touch was provided by Younis Khan who hammered his way to a 50 off 33 deliveries. After the departure of free stroking Umar Akmal (28), Younis took charge and unleashed an array of lofted drives to end his run drought. Younis Khan finally fell to a one handed stunner from Suresh Raina.

Dhoni used eight bowlers but the bowling was all over the place, with the exception of Ashok Dinda. The Bengal speedster varied his pace and bowled better lines while Irfan, Praveen Kumar and Ashwin went for plenty.

The win here for India gives them a foot in the finals with a lot depending on the clash between Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. If Sri Lanka wins their game against Bangladesh, it would be an India – Pakistan final but if Bangladesh wins, they would qualify since India were beaten by Bangladesh in their head to head encounter.

So the Indian would hope that their island neighbors will not deny them a place in the finals on two consecutive tournaments.

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