Colombo: It was Kamran Akmal’s day at the Premadasa Cricket Stadium.
In the final warm-up match before the International Cricket Council (ICC) World Cup Twenty20, he steered Pakistan to an exciting five-wicket win through a breezy 92 off 50 balls.
Akmal lifted Pakistan from 91 for five in 11.3 overs to a victory — chasing down a target of 186 with five balls to spare. He displayed how destructive he can be when in full flow as his innings was studded with six sixers and five fours. He along with Shoaib Malek (37n.o.) put on 95 runs off just 7.5 overs to pull off an unexpected victory after India had posted an impressive 185 for three in 20 overs.
India rode a 127-run partnership in just 12.5 overs between Virat Kohil and Rohit Sharma to put up a challenging 185 for three. Kohli remained unconquered with a breezy 75 runs off just 47 balls with two sixes and seven boundaries while Rohit Sharma hit 56 off 40 balls with six boundaries and two sixes.
Chasing a run rate of 9.28 per over, Pakistan began positively. Openers Mohammad Hafeez and Imran Nazir went for their shots and put on 30 runs in just 3.3 overs when off spinner Ashwin put the brakes on Pakistan.
Kamran Akmal, who joined Hafeez announced his intentions with a six off Harbhajan Singh over mid-off. In the next over, Akmal hit Yuvraj Singh over extra cover for a boundary and followed it up with a cut past point for another boundary. He was also severe on Harbhajan Singh in the next over.
Akmal and Hafeez put on 51 runs in 5.4 overs when Ashwin struck again - forcing Hafeez to hit into the hand of Rohit Sharma at long off for 38 off just 29 balls. Shahid Afridi once again failed despite being cheered into the crease with the large number of Pakistan supporters here. He lasted two balls before hitting Ashwin to Zaheer Khan at long off for a duck.
Pakistan slipped to 84 for four in 10 overs, still needing 102 runs in 60 balls. Umar Akmal joined his brother but he lasted only five balls before being brilliantly caught and bowled by Ashwin.
Needing 56 runs from 30 balls, Shoaib Malek hit Harbhajan Singh for a powerful six over long on. From then on, Akmal took charge.
For India, openers Gautam Gambhir and Virender Sehwag gave a quick start when they added 41 runs in just 4.4 overs before Gambhir, while going for a pull, played on to the wicket for 10.
Sehwag began sighting the ball so well he once cracked Sohail Tanveer over point boundary for a six. Pakistan introduced their strike bowler Saeed Ajmal and as usual he struck in his very first over. With the fifth ball he made Sehwag cut uppishly into the hands of Shahid Afridi for 26.