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Pakistan beat India by 25 runs

cricket Updated: Jun 14, 2008 23:11 IST

PTI
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Mahendra Singh Dhoni and his teammates failed to climb the run-mountain as Pakistan shoved a 25-run defeat down India's throat to lift the cricket tri-series title here tonight.

Despite dominating the tournament with characteristic ruthlessness, the Indians failed when it mattered most and choked in the final to allow an under-pressure Pakistan avenge their league match defeat and run away with the silverware.

After twin tons by Salman Butt (129 retired hurt) and Younis Khan (108) propelled Pakistan to 315 for three, India faltered early in their chase and eventually folded for 290 in 48.2 overs.

Dhoni (64 off 59 balls) and Yuvraj Singh (59 off 56 balls) tried their best but their batting colleagues failed to convert the starts.

A strong start was pre-requisite for such a mammoth chase and with Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir (40 off 33 balls) in red hot form so far, India expected another solid foundation from the openers.

But law of averages finally caught up with Sehwag, who scratched around for his two runs before giving Shoaib Malik a simple catch off Sohail Tanvir at mid-off in the second over.

Rohit Sharma (24) joined Gambhir in the middle and kept India in the hunt with some fluent stroke-play. The duo seemed to have steadied the ship when Umar Gul came up with a two-wicket burst, removing both in successive overs.

Rohit's fluffed pull found Nasir Jamshed at deep backward square leg, while Gambhir cut it to backward point to the same substitute fielder to leave India reeling at 79 for three inside 13 overs.

Yusuf Pathan too could not convert and threw away his wicket after a run-a-ball 25, as did Suresh Raina (24) after the left-hander had put on 73 runs with Yuvraj.

As long as Yuvraj was in the middle, India seemed right on course but Shahid Afridi had other ideas and he snared the left-hander in the 32nd over to jolt India. Yuvraj's 59-ball 56 included five boundaries, besides a six.

Dhoni and Irfan Pathan (28) kept India afloat for some more time but at the end of the day, it was simply not enough.

Earlier, Pakistan rode on a 205-run second wicket stand between Butt and Younis Khan to amass 315 for three.

With Pakistan Cricket Board chief Nasim Ashraf in attendance, Malik and his under-pressure teammates had extra reasons to put up a better show and they decided to take a slow but steady approach which clearly paid off.

The sedate start proved the lull before the storm and after Butt and Younis laid the perfect foundation for a big score, Misbah-ul-Haq threw his bat to good effect and chipped in with a 33-run cameo off just 21 balls as the side went past the 300-mark.

Dhoni used as many as eight bowlers, including Suresh Raina, but with little success.

After Shoaib Malik won the toss and decided to take first strike of the Sher-e-Bangla track, Pakistan decided to shun extravagance and keep enough wickets in hand to provide that late burst.