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Showers stoke India’s intensity

cricket Updated: Jan 17, 2010 23:02 IST
Anand Vasu
Anand Vasu
Hindustan Times
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When India arrived at Hagley Park for their match on Sunday, a fine drizzle fell on the lush green outfield and a couple of ducks frolicked on the puddles that had formed on the covers.

For three hours the outlook was grim, and when the situation improved enough for the captains to go out to toss, the concern was not so much Hong Kong causing an upset, but rain denying India valuable points.

What was needed was a clinical performance, and Sandeep Sharma knew the importance of using moisture and weather conditions optimally.

In a spell that would have troubled senior international batsmen, man-of-the-match, Sandeep sucked the breath out of Hong Kong. With the ball swinging prodigiously, leaving the left-handers and coming in to the right-handers, and seaming one way or the other, batsmen repeatedly played and missed. Sandeep intelligently cut down his pace and bowled a fuller length, and had Shakeel Haq caught beautifully at second slip and removed Irfan Ahmad for a first-ball duck to be on a hat-trick in the fifth over.

Nizakat Khan kept out the hat-trick delivery but was done in not long after as a perfectly pitched delivery jagged in wickedly off the pitch to hit the top of off-stump. Bowling his seven overs, Sharma returned figures of 7-2-11-3, and even this would have been better had his last ball not been tonked for a boundary. Left-arm spinner Gaurav Jathar chipped in with three wickets and a run out off his own bowling and India had got the hard part out of the way.

Needing 148 from 35 overs to secure two more points and a place in the knockouts, India openers put a display of a class that opposition had little chance.

KL Rahul (62 not out) and Mayank Agarwal (63), put on 119 for the first wicket in just 18.4 overs. Mandeep Singh finished the inning and India were home with 11 overs and nine wickets in the bag.