| GEO Sports|
| Sharma helps India win over Pak in T20 warm-up|
| Updated at: 0159 PST, Thursday, June 04, 2009|
LONDON: Brilliant batting from Rohit Sharma saw defending champions India to a crushing nine-wicket win over arch-rivals Pakistan in their ICC World Twenty20 warm-up match at the Oval here on Tuesday.
Sharma made 80 and shared a huge first-wicket stand of 140 with left-hander Gautam Gambhir (52 not out) that got India to the brink of their 159 target.
It needed a fine catch in the deep by Ahmed Shehzad off Mohammad Amir, one of seven bowlers used, to end Sharma's innings of 93 balls with two sixes and nine fours.
But India still won with three overs to spare.
India, who lost to New Zealand by nine runs in their previous warm-up match, were again without star batsman Virender Sehwag because of a shoulder injury.
But such was Sharma's form, Sehwag was barely missed as Pakistan suffered a second heavy warm-up defeat after their 59-run loss to South Africa.
This match was a repeat of the 2007 final which India won by five runs in a thrilling contest in Johannesburg. But here a capacity crowd had to be content with Indian excellence alone.
Fast bowler Ishant Sharma led the India attack with one for 18 in three overs as they restricted Pakistan to 158 for six in 20 overs.
Pakistan lost three wickets with their score on 45 and it needed an unbroken stand of 45 between Misbah-ul-Haq (37 not out) and Yasir Arafat (25 not out) to give them some hope of staying in the game.
India, chasing 159 for victory, saw Sharma loft Arafat for six and pull Amir for four. Meanwhile Gambhir weighed in with the occasional blazing hit, pulling leg-spinner Shahid Afridi to the mid-wicket boundary during his 45-ball fifty.
Unusually for a warm-up, this game was being played in front of a 23,000 sell-out crowd.
After Pakistan captain Younus Khan won the toss and batted in overcast conditions, India saw Praveen Kumar bowl Shehzeb Hussain for nought with the fifth ball of the match.
New batsman Kamran Akmal struck several stylish boundaries but his exit sparked a collapse that saw three wickets lost with the score on 45.
Akmal was brilliantly run-out by Suresh Raina's diving underarm direct hit and three balls later Raina was involved again when he caught Shehzad off Ishant Sharma.
Afridi can turn any match with his destructive batting but next ball he was out for a golden duck, caught behind off Irfan Pathan.
A composed stand of 50 in 45 balls between Younus and Misbah-ul-Haq repaired some of the early damage before Younus was stumped for a run-a-ball 32 off Harbhajan Singh.
India begn the tournament proper against Bangladesh at Trent Bridge on Saturday while Pakistan face hosts England at The Oval 24 hours later.