Saturday, 26 September 2009
2009 Cricket Champions Trophy - Pakistan Beats India By 54 Runs
Pakistan made it two wins from two in the Champions Trophy as Shoaib Malik's masterful 128 set up a 54-run win over an out-of-sorts India in Centurion.
Malik and Mohammad Yousuf (87), who put on 206 together, built up their score gradually before cutting loose in the last 15 overs to rack up 302-9.
Rahul Dravid took 103 balls to reach 76 and when he was seventh out in the 42nd over, India quickly lost their way.
They were all out for 248 with five overs and one ball remaining.
With such a strong net run-rate, it would take a heavy loss to Australia, and two other results going against them, to prevent Pakistan, the World Twenty20 champions, making the semi-finals.
India's key match could be against Australia, with the winner of that likely to take the other semi-final berth from Group A.
A critical difference between the two sides was the effectiveness of each set of spinners.
India off-spinners Harbhajan Singh and Yusuf Pathan were cut for a succession of wonderful boundaries by Malik and Yousuf, and milked for easy singles, with 127 runs coming from their 20 overs and just two wickets.
By contrast, Pakistan's slow pairing of Saeed Ajmal and Shahid Afridi conceded just 70 runs from 18.5 overs, and each took two wickets.
Pakistan's discipline with the ball was not the best. They sent down seven no-balls, and the resultant free hits were frequently despatched for fours and sixes.
But ultimately the wonderful batting of Malik and Yousuf, who both managed to score at around a run a ball, had ensured there were enough runs in the bank.
Pakistan, after winning the toss, got off to an electric start with the bat through Kamran Akmal and Imran Nazir as 51 runs came off the first seven overs.
The scoring-rate then slowed as India's seamers belatedly found the right areas of the wicket to bowl in, but Pakistan refused to panic.
Malik was particularly patient early on, while the experienced Yousuf hit singles at will through the on-side to keep the scoreboard ticking over.
Eventually, Malik turned aggressor, running India's fielders ragged with 15 boundaries scored on the off-side alone, with timing and placement out of the very top drawer.
With the two batsmen easily lifting the run-rate without taking undue risks, Pakistan were able to delay the batting powerplay until the last five overs.
Ashish Nehra, who took a commendable 4-55, served up a slower ball to finally end Yousuf's involvement on 87, but Malik continued to lay waste to India's bowlers.
Only the final over brought respite for India, with two late wickets for Ishant Sharma and just two runs gathered by Rana Naved, but it looked very much advantage Pakistan at the halfway stage.
The early loss of Sachin Tendulkar, who was squared up by a terrific Mohammad Aamir leg-cutter which he edged to Akmal, made the task even harder for India. But Gautam Gambhir produced some wonderful on-side pick-ups to carve 57 off just 46 balls before his innings was cut off in its prime.
Batting partner Dravid pushed to mid-off, thought about a suicidal single, half called Gambhir through and then sent him back. Younus Khan had all three stumps to aim at, and did not miss.
India now wilted as Virat Kohli holed out to long-off and Mahendra Dhoni tamely fell lbw, Afridi taking both wickets.
But Suresh Raina brought India back into the game with some brilliant hitting, taking two fours and a six in a single over from Malik.
The mandatory 34-over ball change then gave Pakistan a boost. Dew had made the previous ball tough to grip, but Ajmal now found some purchase and he won a vital lbw appeal against Raina, though replays suggested some doubt as to whether the ball had hit bat first.
Teenage paceman Aamir returned to have Pathan caught at slip, but Dravid remained India's rock and 71 were needed from the final nine overs with four wickets in hand as the batting powerplay was taken.
Six balls later, Dravid was run out as he and Harbhajan got into a dreadful mess looking for a third run and Umar Gul's excellent return to Akmal was too good.
There was little the last four batsmen could do now, and the last three wickets fell in the space of eight deliveries, with Naved and Ajmal wrapping up the victory.
The one lingering concern for Pakistan was Gul, who sent down three no-balls in six dreadful overs which cost 55 runs.
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