Clinical Pak put it across India

Malik, Yousuf come good with bat; Dravid and Gambhirs knocks go in vain


Shoiab Malik’s century formed the backbone of Pakistan’s win over India on Saturday. AFP

The battle of the Asian giants lived up to its billing at SuperSport Park on electric Saturday as the Champions Trophy eventually sprang to life. The force had always been with Pakistan coming into this match, and once Shoaib Malik scripted a wonderful seventh one-day hundred to propel them to 302 for nine, India had their hands full.

Gautam Gambhir, slipping into the role of the angry young man, threatened single-handedly to scale down that massive total, Rahul Dravid rolled the years back with kind of innings that has anchored many a chase in the past and Suresh Raina lit up the evening with a succession of thumping strokes, but strange diffidence in running between the wickets and the obvious lack of depth meant India were bowled out for 248, Pakistan emerging victors by 54 runs.

Self-destruction

Long before the run outs of Gambhir and Dravid, India had begun to self-destruct with the ball after Younis Khan won a crucial toss.

With Ashish Nehra in the forefront, India appeared to have ridden over the early thrust provided by Imran Nazir when they restricted Pakistan to 134 for three after 30 overs.

The early part of a Pakistan record fourth-wicket stand of 206 (188b) between Malik (128, 126b, 16x4) and Mohammad Yousuf (87, 88b, 7x4) was merely the calm before the storm. Brought together at 65 for three, the duo took its time, Malik supremely becalmed and Yousuf ticking the board over in risk-free fashion.

Once man of the match Malik got the measure of the conditions, he effortlessly changed gears.

The 27-year-old is strong off the back foot, and in the last two-fifths of the Pakistani innings, he was repeatedly fed a consistent diet of the short stuff by Rudra Pratap Singh, Ishant Sharma and Harbhajan Singh, 61 of his coming behind point. His first 50 took 81 deliveries, the next just 27!

Match-winning total

Yousuf’s was a wonderful lesson in art of building an innings without hitting out in anger, his vast experience and Malik’s brilliance not just hauling the team out of a hole but also setting up a match-winning total.

When they bowled, Pakistan’s advantage lay their two excellent spinners who made the most of a wearing surface – this was the third match in five days on the same pitch.

Between them, Shahid Afridi and Saeed Ajmal ripped the heart out of the Indian batting once Mohammad Aamer – not even born when Sachin Tendulkar made his international debut! – dealt the first body blow by getting rid of the master.

Afridi, fizzing his leg-breaks and procuring substantial bounce, accounted for Virat Kohli and skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni while Ajmal won Steve Davis’ nod of approval after Raina edged a full ball on to his pad.

The left-hander had been in sublime touch, systematically dismantling the Pakistanis and picking out Umar Gul – who had earlier been smashed to smithereens by Gambhir – for special treatment.

Spoiling party

The Dravid-Raina association, worth 72 (69b), had totally transferred the balance of power until Davis stepped in to spoil the party. That it came immediately on the back of the loss of Kohli and Dhoni made it as special as the Gambhir-Dravid second-wicket stand of 67 (61b), the Delhi left-hander battering Pakistan on his way to a 36-ball 50, celebrated by pointing the bat handle in the direction of Younis.

Gambhir’s run-out after a mix-up with Dravid, allowing Younis to line the stumps up from mid-off for a direct hit, seemed to steel the former skipper, who rotated the strike admirably and appeared set to steer the ship home until another mix-up, this time with Harbhajan, ended in a needless and bizarre run out. Game over, then and there.

Score board

PAKISTAN

Nazir c Harbhajan b Nehra    20
(17b, 4x4)
K Akmal b Nehra    19
(22b, 3x4)
Younis c Dhoni b RP Singh    20
(33b, 3x4)
Malik c Pathan b Harbhajan    128
(126b, 16x4)
Yousuf b Nehra    87
(88b, 7x4)
Afridi c Dhoni b Pathan    4
(2b, 1x4)
U Akmal c Dhoni b Nehra    0
(1b)
Rana (not out)    11
(8b, 1x4)
Gul c Raina b Ishant    0
(2b)
Aamer c Kohli b Ishant    0
(1b)
Ajmal (not out)    0
(0b)
Extras (LB-1, W-12)    13
Total (for 9 wkts, 50 overs)    302
Fall of wickets: 1-29 (Nazir), 2-53 (K Akmal), 3-65 (Younis), 4-271 (Yousuf), 5-278 (Afridi), 6-289 (U Akmal), 7-300 (Malik), 8-301 (Gul), 9-302 (Aamer).
Bowling: Ashish Nehra 10-0-55-4, RP Singh 9-1-59-1 (w-2), Ishant Sharma 8-2-39-2 (w-1), Virat Kohli 3-0-21-0, Yusuf Pathan 10-0-56-1, Harbhajan Singh 10-0-71-1 (w-9).
Runs during: Power Play 1: 1-10 overs: 53/2; Power Play 2: 11-15 overs: 12/1; Power Play 3 (batting): 46-50 overs: 41/6.

INDIA
Gambhir (run out)    57
(46b, 7x4, 2x6)
Tendulkar c K Akmal b Aamer    8
(14b, 1x4)
Dravid (run out)    76
(103b, 4x4)
Kohli c Gul b Afridi    16
(24b, 1x4)
Dhoni lbw Afridi    3
(9b)
Raina lbw Ajmal    46
(41b, 5x4, 2x6)
Pathan c (sub) Misbah b Aamer    5
(10b)
Harbhajan b Ajmal    13
(22b, 1x4)
RP Singh c Yousuf b Rana    2
(6b)
Ishant b Rana    0
(1b)
Nehra (not out)    0
(0b)
Extras (B-4, W-11, NB-7)    22
Total (all out, 44.5 overs)    248
Fall of wickets: 1-23 (Tendulkar), 2-90 (Gambhir), 3-126 (Kohli), 4-133 (Dhoni), 5-205 (Raina), 6-218 (Pathan), 7-238 (Dravid), 8-243 (RP Singh), 9-244 (Ishant).
Bowling: Aamer 8-0-46-2 (w-3, nb-3), Rana 9-0-48-2 (w-5), Gul 6-0-55-0 (w-1, nb-3), Ajmal 8.5-0-31-2 (w-1), Afridi 10-0-39-2 (w-1), Malik 3-0-25-0 (nb-1).
Runs during: Power Play 1: 1-10 overs: 65/1; Power Play 2: 11-15 overs: 32/1; Power Play 3 (batting): 42-44.5 overs: 16/4.

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