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Middle order makes it look easy

Ashish Magotra | March 21, 2004 18:29 IST
Last Updated: March 21, 2004 23:10 IST

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India rallied for the dumps to win the fourth One-Day International against Pakistan with much to spare.

Tottering at 94 for 4 in 13 overs, Rahul Dravid and Mohammad Kaif guided India to a five-wicket victory at the Gadaffi Stadium in Lahore on Sunday to level the five-match series 2-2.

Dravid scored 76 off 92 balls to anchor the team home.

He was first involved in a 68-run partnership with Yuvraj Singh for the fifth wicket and then a record unbroken stand of 132 runs with Kaif as India won with exactly five overs to spare.

Earlier, Inzamam-ul Haq hit his second century of the series as Pakistan put up a healthy 293 for 9 in their allotted 50 overs.

India innings:

As Sourav Ganguly walked out to the middle for the toss, he must have, more than anything else, been hoping to win it this time. In the first three ODIs the toss made a huge difference to the result. It was expected to do the same this time too.

The average first innings score at the ground is 263, but given the prevalent dry conditions in the region, a higher total could be expected.

The Indian skipper did not get his first wish as Pakistan won the toss for the fourth consecutive time and elected to bat.

Pakistan, 2-1 up in the five-match series, retained the same team that won the third ODI, in Peshawar on Friday.

India made one change, bringing back left-arm spinner Murali Kartik for off-spinner Ramesh Powar.

The Lahore crowd greeted the arrival of Pakistani openers Yasser Hameed and Shahid Afridi with a huge roar. Hameed, with 191 runs, at an average of 63.66, is Pakistan's in-form batsman, while the big-hitting skills of Afridi are a well-known commodity. Together they make a fearsome opening pair.

The new ball was again shared by Irfan Pathan and Lakshimipathy Balaji. Both bowlers managed to extract good bounce from a pitch that was universally thought to be placid.

Pathan struck an early blow for the Indians. A short of length ball just outside the off-stump tempted Afridi to go for the big shot. The ball, however, got very big on him and his uppishly played cut ended up in the hands of Yuvraj Singh at point. (8-1)

The Indian team, as it has done of late, came together in a huddle. Yousuf Youhana was in next. The experienced right-hander seemed to strike up a perfect rhythm with Hameed. The duo stabilized the innings with a 31-run stand before Pathan claimed the former's wicket.

Pathan has the ability to get the ball to swing into the right-hander. That earned him another wicket. The ball pitched bang in line with the middle-stump and continued along that line to trap Youhana leg-before wicket.

That brought the Pakistan captain to the wicket. After scoring a brilliant 122 in the first game, Inzamam has got off to starts, 29 at Rawalpindi and 28 at Peshwar, in the other matches and one got the feeling that another big one was just around the corner.

Hameed hit some stylish shots through the covers as he added a valuable 50 runs with his skipper. But then Kartik got his man.

The left-arm spinner started his spell by bowling from round the wicket. An indication that Ganguly intended to use him in a defensive manner. But Kartik managed to extract some turn and what was defensive metamorphosed to attacking. That's when Hameed was dismissed.

A flighted delivery on the middle and leg tempted Hammed to come down the wicket. He was beaten and Dravid no mistake with the stumping chance. The Pakistani opener made a well-compiled 45 off 68 balls including five fours.

Inzamam, at the other end, was looking very composed. Hardly in trouble against both spin and pace, the Pakistani skipper looked in a different class. In Younis Khan he found the perfect partner.

The duo rotated the strike with ease as they set about building a big partnership. Younis was circumspect while Inzamam increasingly grew adventurous. One shot, a six of Balaji stood out. He took two steps out of the crease, picked the ball from way outside the off-stump and dispatched it to the long-on boundary. An unbelievable shot but also a true indicator of his class.

The pair put on 105 runs before Younis was dismissed trying to sweep Kartik for six. He struck the ball well, maybe too sweetly, and it went straight to Pathan, at deep fine leg, who almost made a hash of the catch. Younis made 36 off 48 balls.

A wicket is always thought to slow down the scoring rate. But that does not hold true if Abdul Razzaq is the next man in. The all-rounder averages 55-plus when playing at home and his strike rate is also well above a hundred.

At the end of the 40th over, Pakistan were 198 for the loss four wickets. But the final thrust was yet to come. And when it did, the Indians were blown away.

Inzamam hit with tremendous power and purpose as he reached his second century of the series. Razzaq, with a little time on his hands, got his eye in before launching a ferocious assault.

Between the 40th and the 42rd overs, the Indians conceded just 12 runs. And then the storm broke and along with it came a feeling of impending doom. Indian shoulders began to sag; Ganguly remonstrated wildly as the bowlers were smashed all round the park.

Runs came in a torrent as Pakistan reached 264 in the 47th over before Inzamam was clean bowled by Balaji. An in-swinging yorker got the better of the Pakistan skipper. But his job was done. He scored 123 off just 121 balls, including nine fours and five massive sixes.

Moin Khan, who was in next, suffered the same fate as his skipper and was clean bowled two balls later as Balaji completed his ten overs on a high.

But nothing seems to stop Razzaq. He continued on his merry way to score 32 off just 24 balls before being brilliantly caught by Mohammad Kaif in the deep off Tendulkar.

At the end of 50 overs, Pakistan scored 293 for the loss of nine wickets.

Pakistan innings

The regularity with which teams score over 280 these days means that most teams have a plan when them come out chasing. Go hammer and tongs in the early overs and then try to maintain the run-rate throughout the innings.

For India, getting off to a quick start is never a problem. Virender Sehwag makes sure of that. But sustaining the same run-rate is difficult. It wasn't so today. Rahul Dravid, Yuvraj Singh and Mohammad Kaif played splendidly, after the loss of early wickets, as India cruised to a morale-boosting win.

A wide, as it has become the norm for Pakistan bowlers, started off proceedings once again. Without even trying anything silly against the express pace of Shoaib Akhtar, the Indians were already scoring at a run-a-ball. The second over saw Shabbir Ahmed get smashed all over the park.

The lanky bowler had destroyed the Indian top order in Peshawar. Today, it was retribution time. And luck wasn't favouring him either. In the fourth over of the match, Tendulkar was caught off a no-ball.

But, luckily for Pakistan, the master batsman did not last too long. Akhtar claimed the big wicket of Tendulkar (7). The ball was pitched outside the off-stump and moved in a little off the pitch, forcing Tendulkar to play at it. The resultant inside edge was easily grasped by wicketkeeper Moin Khan. (34-1)

In the sixth over, luck favoured the Indians again. Shabbir was the unlucky bowler who had V V S Laxman caught off a no-ball. The elegant Hyderabadi made him pay for his mistake by hammering 16 runs, including three consecutive boundaries, in the eighth over of the innings.

But Akhtar came to his opening partner's rescue when he shattered Laxman's castle. A promising 20 off 18 balls came to an end even as the batsman was starting to look good. (69-2)

Disaster struck soon after when Sehwag (26 off 29 balls) was dismissed by a perfect fast bowler's dismissal. Mohammad Sami drew the batsman out, got the ball to move and the edge flew straight to Younis Khan at first slip. (75-3)

At the end of 10 overs, India, despite the loss of three wickets, were 75 for 3.

The Indian skipper was in next. Like Laxman, he shone in his brief stay at the wicket. 21 runs came off 15 balls before Razzaq tempted Ganguly. An old failing of his surfaced as he hung his bat outside the off-stump and paid the price. (94-4)

At this point even the most optimistic of supporters would have put a win beyond India. But just when you least expect, this Indian team surprises you with its pluck and grit.

Yuvraj Singh and Rahul Dravid put their heads down and decided to change things around for India. The duo put on a vital 68 runs. A wicket at that stage could well have finished the Indian challenge. But the heart of this unit is precisely what differentiates it from teams that turned out for the country in the past.

Yuvraj was undaunted by the Pakistan attack and preferred to take them head on. His 36 was studded with some astonishingly elegant drives and brutal cuts.

Sami eventually got the breakthrough for Pakistan. A short delivery from the fast bowler was pulled straight to Youhana, who took a good catch, diving forward. The left-hander could have hit it anywhere but was lucky to find the fielder. (162-5)

With 26.1 overs to go and 132 runs to get, India were still the underdogs. But they were well ahead of the required run-rate.

Mohammad Kaif and Dravid, decided to bat through the 50 overs. It was clear to all watching that if India could bat through their overs, they would win.

The unfinished partnership was superb not only for the way they ran their ones and twos but also because they chose the right ball to punish. And when they did decide to punish, it was usually for the maximum. The runs came quickly as India inched closer to victory.

Inzamam did all in his power; Akhtar was brought back as were Shabbir and Sami. But to no avail. Shabbir was hammered for 62 in his seven overs. The Pakistani bowlers were guilty once again of bowling far too many wides (19) and no-balls (9).

Dravid scored a composed 76 off 92 balls while Kaif scored 71 off just 77 deliveries. India won the match by five wickets with five overs to spare.

The visitors will now have the momentum as they go into the final ODI of the series on Wednesday.

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Number of User Comments: 40

Sub: Laxman needs to be dropped.

Laxman needs to be dropped simply coz he cant play against any other opponent other than Aussies. Stats shown below: Average against all teams : ...

Posted by Hemanth

Sub: Proved

perfect condition was there for Kaif to prove his ability and he usual our wall was solid as a rock in crease - excellent ...

Posted by bapu

Sub: Winning The heart is highly Important....

Although India made a tremendous win and leveled the series to 2-2 ... The main stuff in this is not to win the series , ...

Posted by marzouk

Sub: India Vs. Pakistan

These matches are better than World Cup matches. Both the team are putting their best and Match can turn anyside till the last ball of ...

Posted by Vinod

Sub: This MATCH was FIXED.

This MATCH was FIXED. 1. Ther is no Tension in Pakistanies Faces 2. No Discussions at the stage they are loosing 3. Wantedly given EXTRAS ...

Posted by Arvind


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