Pakistan held their nerve to clinch a 5-wicket win with two deliveries
to spare over India as they resume their bilateral cricket rivalry
after five years with the first of two Twenty20 matches on Tuesday.
India failed to capitalise on a good start, losing nine wickets for 56
runs to end up with a total of 133/9 at the Chinnaswamy stadium in
In reply, Pakistan fought back after a stunning spell by Bhuvneshwar
Kumar on debut to take the lead in the two match series. Mohammad
Hafeez (61 off 44) and Shoaib Malik (57 not out off 50) were the stars
for the visitors.
Indian openers Gautam Gambhir (43) and Ajinkya Rahane (42) started off
slowly but they took India to 75 for no loss at the end of the 10th
Pakistan, hoping to make some inroads, introduced Saeed Ajmal and
Shahid Afridi, but no damage was done while the spinners ended up
conceding quite a few runs.
The partnership finally came to an end when Rahane, coming down the
track to Afridi, holed out to Umar Akmal at long-off. Soon, Gambhir
departed on 43, run-out at the striker’s end after attempting a quick
second. This got the pair of Yuvraj Singh and Virat Kohli to the
crease, both in good form.
The former started off with a huge six over deep mid wicket off Afridi
off the first ball he faced while the latter swept Hafeez to the
square leg boundary to take India past the 100-run mark in the 14th
over. Fast bowler Mohammad Irfan then was brought back to bowl his
final over and he responded by dismissing Kohli for 9.
Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni did not last long, falling to
Ajmal on 1 in the 16th over. India were left five down for 117 in the
next over when Yuvraj Singh, trying to land Gul over the mid-wicket
boundary, found Umar Akmal and departed on 10.
More disappointment was in store for the India as Suresh Raina (10)
and Rohit Sharma (2) departed in quick succession. Raina (10) tried to
pull Ajmal but the ball hurried on and the left-hander ended up
missing it to see the ball crash on to the stumps.
In the same over, Ravindra Jadeja called Sharma for a quick two but
there was no second in it and a direct hit from Malik found Rohit way
short of the crease at the non-striker’s end. Gul then dismissed
Jadeja and Ishant Sharma off back to back deliveries in the 19th over.
Ashok Dinda and Bhuvneshwar Kumar managed 7 runs off the final over,
which was bowled by Sohail Tanvir as India ended up with a total of
133 for 9.
With not too much to defend, India needed early wickets to put
pressure on the Pakistanis. An unlikely hero emerged in Bhuvneshwar
Kumar, who bowled a terrific opening spell to leave the visitors in
early trouble. The seamer finished with excellent figures of 3/9.
His first breakthrough came in the opening over when he produced five
away-going deliveries to the left-handed Nasir Jamshed before bringing
the last one back in to hit the stumps. While Ashok Dinda went for a
couple of boundaries in the second over, Bhuvneshwar prevented
Pakistan from gaining any kind of momentum.
The Orissa pacer lured Ahmed Shezad into the drive and the batsman
ended up nicking it to Dhoni while he produced a brilliant delivery to
Umar Akmal, beating the batsman’s defence to hit the top of middle
stump. At the end of the 6th over, Pakistan were struggling at 22 for
Pakistan needed a partnership to force their way back into the game.
Skipper Hafeez led by example and received good support from Malik as
they built a good partnership to get the visitors back on track.
Dhoni decided to introduce Kohli into the attack and the move did not
quite work for the hosts as the part-time bowler gave away three
boundaries – one by Malik and two by Hafeez – in the 21 runs conceded
by him in 2 overs.
Luck also favoured Hafeez a couple of times – the umpire ruled him not
out despite the batsman getting a glove to the keeper off Jadeja’s
bowling, while Raina could not hold to a tough chance off Yuvraj’s
Hafeez made use of the reprieves as he went on to bring up his fifty
in style by coming down the track and hitting Jadeja straight back for
a maximum in the 15th over.
The skipper then carved Ishant Sharma for a couple of boundaries in
the next over to power Pakistan past the 100-run mark and put the
visitors in command. Malik, who had earlier scored a six off Jadeja,
brought up the 100-run stand in the 17th over with a couple off Dinda.
Pakistan were running away with the game and only quick wickets could
have given India some semblance of chance. There was a ray of hope for
India after Ishant bowled a fine 18th over in which he gave away just
2 runs while picking up the wicket of Hafeez.
His fine knock came to an end when he upper cut straight to
Bhuvneshwar at third man. Ishant could have had another wicket but was
denied that – Malik, like Hafeez, produced an upper-cut and Jadeja
picked up a splendid catch but the decision was referred to the third
umpire and ruled it a no-ball for height.
A disgruntled Ishant even had a couple of words to say to Kamran Akmal.
Pakistan needed 14 off 2 overs and while Malik brought up his fifty in
the penultimate over, which was bowled by Dinda, only four runs came
off that over at the expense of Kamran Akmal’s wicket.
Jadeja was given the final over with Pakistan needing 10 for victory.
While four runs came off the first three balls, Malik smashed the
fourth one in front of the sight-screen for six to help the visitors
register their first T20I victory against India.