Kohli's immunity to pressure comes to the fore as India crush the old enemy

Going into their ICC Champions Trophy opener, India captain Virat Kohli suggested there was "nothing different" about facing arch-rivals Pakistan.

His apparent indifference to the prospect of taking on the old enemy leant credence to the growing belief that this fixture has lost much of its lustre, due largely to India's recent dominance over their neighbours.

Sunday's meeting at Edgbaston also threatened to be something of a damp squib. A sombre cloud had been cast over the start of proceedings as a minute's silence was held for the victims of Saturday's terrorist atrocities in London and once play did get going it was sporadically interrupted by showers.

Despite the weather, an Edgbaston-record ODI crowd of 24,156 was a festival of green, white, orange and blue and the conditions did not stop India, and indeed Kohli, putting on a show in a crushing 124-run win.

Rohit Sharma was run out nine runs short of a century and Shikhar Dhawan's 68 featured three successive fours in a dreadful 20th over from Wahab Riaz.

Yuvraj Singh contributed a high-powered 32-ball 53, but it was the skipper who shone brightest for his unbeaten 81.

Speaking in the post-match media conference, Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur conceded the pressure got to his players.

"For us to go and have our performance as tentative as that right from the start is a worry," he said. "And the only thing I can think of is the magnitude of the occasion got to them."

By contrast Kohli's somewhat dismissive attitude to the meaning of the fixture was apparent as he calmly showcased a repertoire that has made him perhaps the most feared batsman in world cricket in any form of the game.

Demonstrating composure, timing and an understated inventiveness in his shot-making, Kohli, along with Yuvraj and Hardik Pandya - who smashed three successive sixes at the end - clattered 72 runs off the final four overs to power India past the 300 mark, the persistence of the rain leaving Pakistan with a revised target of 289 that they never had a hope of reaching.

Pace bowlers Umesh Yadav and Bhuvneshwar Kumar were extremely impressive in throttling the Pakistan batting line-up, Azhar Ali the only player to offer up any kind of meaningful riposte with a half-century.

But while the bowling attack and the openers are more than worthy of their fair share of praise, it is Kohli who will again take the spotlight for his performance, made even more impressive coming on the back of reports of a rift between him and coach Anil Kumble.

There is an irony in a man who moved to play down the significance of the rivalry doing the most to make a one-sided affair a spectacle.

Yet perhaps that is what makes Kohli so fearsome; he places no extra importance on any foe and he has proven he can score at will against any opposition on a consistent basis.

"Regardless of who you play, you just want to play cricket," Kohli said afterwards.

"At the end of the day, for us, it's just playing the sport we love. It's not preferences over opposition. And that's all I can say to this."

In a tournament where the defending champions could face stiff tests against hosts England, Australia and South Africa in the latter stages, Kohli's immunity to both the pressure of the occasion and quality of the opponent could well be the difference in helping India retain the trophy.

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