Shilhar Dhawan (73) and Virat Kohli set a new Indian record against Pakistan in a World Cup match, adding 129 runs for the second wicket. The previous best partnership for the reigning world champions in cricket’s showpiece event, was 102. Both men battled poor form and severe criticism to put India in a strong position after Rohit Sharma fell to Sohail Khan for 15 in the 8th over. (Scorecard | Blog)
Kohli and Dhawan joined with India placed nervously on 34/1 in 7.3 overs but the two Delhi batsmen were determined to prove their critics wrong.
Dhawan chose the biggest stage of his career to shrug off a poor run of form, slamming a half-century on World Cup debut. Dhawan, whose place in the playing XI had come under question after a series of failures overseas, was solid against the pace of Mohammad Irfan and Sohail despite the early loss of his opening partner.
In more thrilling news for India, an out-of-form Kohli also bounced back, slamming his 34th ODI half-century. Kohli was in the midst of a lean phase but experts like Sunil Gavaskar had backed him, saying he was too good a player to keep missing out for too long.
India chose to bat and looked confident from the outset, showing no signs of nerves against their oldest nemesis in international cricket. Dhawan looked composed and with Rohit, fired the world champions off to a solid start before the latter perished to Sohail with the score on 34.
Dhawan used his feet well and played shots on both sides of the wicket and showed great technique to negate the steep bounce from Irfan, who stands tall at 7ft 1 inch. Together with Kohli, he milked the Pakistani attack which looked clearly under pressure.
Kohli was also in poor form leading to the World Cup, scoring in single digits in four successive ODIs before failing in the warm-ups against Australia and Afghanistan. There was talk of sending the Indian vice-captain at Number 4 in case of an early loss of wicket but the team-management sent him up at No. 3, his regular spot. Suresh Raina had said Kohli would be ready for the big stage and indeed he was, reaching his landmark off 60 deliveries.
The duo, both from Delhi, had earlier reportedly been involved in a heated discussion over batting positions during the Brisbane Test, which India lost late last year.