Champions India made a brilliant start to their World Cup defence, posting a 76-run win over Pakistan at a raucous Adelaide Oval on Sunday.
In a match predicted to be viewed by more than a billion people, the bitter rivals clashed in front of 41,587 fans, but the rather one-sided contest did not befit the massive television audience or electric atmosphere inside the stadium.
Port Adelaide and the Adelaide Crows routinely pack out the Oval during the winter for their AFL clashes, but even one of the city’s much-vaunted ‘Showdowns’ would struggle to match the intensity and colour on display here.
India won the toss and elected to bat, reaching 7-300 on the back of a brilliant ton from skipper Virat Kohli and half-centuries from Shikhar Dhawan (73) and big-hitting Suresh Raina (74).
In reply Pakistan never looked up to the job, and despite a gritty knock from Misbah-ul-Haq (76) they were bowled out for 224.
But it was Kohli, again, who was the star, after an early stroke of luck when Yasir Shah put down a difficult chance from a mistimed pull shot.
Arriving in the eighth over after Rohit Sharma (15) fell cheaply, Kohli cracked eight fours in his knock of 107, which came off 126 balls.
He was granted another life on 76 when Umar Akmal put down a chance off Haris Sohail, and he made the most of it.
Kohli and Dhawan put on 129 for the second wicket before a miscommunication saw the latter run out.
That brought in Raina, and the pair put on 110 – Raina bludgeoning three sixes on his way to a half-century off 40 balls.
Kohli notched up his 22nd one-day international century with a single, pumping his fist and whipping off his helmet before looking to the sky.
The 26-year-old finally fell to seamer Sohail Khan, when he edged a wide one and was caught behind by wicketkeeper Umar Akmal.
At that stage India was 3-273, but Kohli’s dismissal triggered a mini collapse, with seamer Sohail Khan snaring the wickets of Raina, MS Dhoni (18) and Ajinkya Rahane (0) to finish with figures of 5-55.
In reply, Pakistan lost Younis Khan (6) in the fourth over, and although Ahmed Shehzad (47) and Haris Sohail (36) righted the ship for a time, the resistance faltered when that partnership was broken.
From 1-79, Pakistan fell to 7-154, paceman Mohammed Shami the cream of the bowlers with 4-35.
Misbah offered some resistance for Pakistan, but when he became Shami’s fourth scalp all hope was lost.
Next up for India is a blockbuster clash with South Africa at the MCG next Sunday, while Pakistan meet the West Indies on Saturday in Christchurch.
Earlier on Sunday, South Africa accounted for Zimbabwe by 62 runs.