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Rahul keeps India alive with swift fifty

India have kept alive their slim chances of making the semi-finals of the Twenty20 World Cup with a thumping eight-wicket victory over Scotland in their Super 12 Group II match.

Virat Kohli elected to field on Friday after winning his first toss of the tournament and had his decision vindicated when the 2007 champions bundled out Scotland for just 85 in 17.4 overs at the Dubai International Stadium.

India then chased down the paltry target in just 6.3 overs for their second win in four matches, also boosting their net run-rate as KL Rahul led the charge by smashing a half-century off just 18 balls before being dismissed off the next delivery he faced.

India’s last group game on Monday is against Namibia, but it will only be a consolation match if New Zealand beat Afghanistan on Sunday to advance.

“We’re glad to be back in our mojo,” India captain Virat Kohli said.

“We spoke about (conceding to Scotland) 100, 120 max but we restricted them to a total that allowed us to leapfrog everyone else.”

His decision to make the Scots bat first turned out better than he could have hoped for.

The rout was started and finished by Jasprit Bumrah, who bowled captain Kyle Coetzer in a wicket-maiden third over, and also bowled Mark Watt to end Scotland’s innings and become India’s leading wicket-taker in T20s, eclipsing Yuzvendra Chahal’s 63.

Coetzer’s opening partner, George Munsey, hit three consecutive boundaries in Ravichandran Ashwin’s first over but went for 24 after mistiming Mohammed Shami and falling to a diving catch by Hardik Pandya.

Ravindra Jadeja took the next three wickets to reduce Scotland to 5-58 in the 12th over.

“The first wicket was the special one,” Jadeja said. “Whenever you get a batter out on a turning ball, it’s special.”

The 16th over bowled by Shami was eventful. In three consecutive deliveries, Calum McLeod’s off stump was knocked off, new batsman Safyaan Sharif was run out too easily, and Alasdair Evans was yorked.

Bumrah took 2-10 and Jadeja and Shami 3-15 apiece.

India knew they could better the net run rate of their immediate group rivals if they reached their target within 7.1 overs.

Openers Rahul and Rohit Sharma made it look easy.

Rahul hit three boundaries off Brad Wheal in the second over and Sharma asked for a new bat midway through the fourth over after hitting three boundaries and a six over midwicket.

Their partnership of 70 in five overs ended when Sharma was lbw to Wheal, after powering to 30 off 16.

Needing only four runs to win and going for it, Rahul was finally caught at long on for 50 after smashing six fours and three sixes.

“We were outclassed in every department,” Scotland’s captain Coetzer said. “But the only way we’ll improve is going through games like that and seeing it head on.”

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