Skipper Virat Kohli stars as defending champions India slay Pakistan in their Champions Trophy opener

Ross McLean
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India v Pakistan - ICC Champions Trophy
Kohli struck three sixes in his unbeaten knock of 81 against Pakistan (Source: Getty)

India skipper Virat Kohli revelled in his side’s domination as they began the defence of their Champions Trophy crown with a 124-run annihilation of rivals Pakistan in a rain-affected clash at Edgbaston.

Big-hitting Kohli struck an unbeaten 81 and Yuvraj Singh a blistering 53 after openers Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan, who made 91 and 68 respectively, had laid solid foundations.

India amassed 319-3 from 48 overs after blasting 72 from the final 24 deliveries, with Hardik Pandya smashing three of the eight balls he faced for six in a frantic finale from which Pakistan never recovered.

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Chasing a target of 289 from 41 overs, which had been revised by Duckworth-Lewis, only opener Azhar Ali played with any fluency although his half-century barely dented India’s tally. A consistent stream of wickets saw Pakistan dismissed for 164.

“With the bat and ball I would say we were 9/10. In the field we were six today but if we can upgrade that to nine then we will be very strong in the tournament,” said Kohli. “This was a very complete performance from us.

“Skill-wise we were really clinical. But it was just in the field, which is a controllable, where we can still improve upon because this is a tournament of all champion teams and every department needs to be strong.”

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India were 192-2 in the 37th over when Yuvraj joined Kohli at the crease to ignite their innings in clinical fashion. Yuvraj reached 50 in just 29 balls as he clubbed eights fours and a six.

After starting comparatively restrained, Kohli accelerated the pace of his innings to finish with three sixes in a 68-ball knock which helped India add 113 runs in the final nine overs and all but bat Pakistan out of the contest.

The result has left India level with South Africa at the top of Group B on two points.

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