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After the fall, the rise

Pak put dope trouble behind with a thrilling win over Lanka, reports CS Luthra. Scorecard | Pics

india Updated: Oct 18, 2006 12:06 IST

Pakistan walked into the ground with only one thing in mind — pride. Losing two frontline bowlers, Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Asif, just a day before their first game of the Champions Trophy, the team was united like never before in the recent past.

The Sri Lankan batsmen, on the other hand, were full of confidence — overconfidence, perhaps. The absence of the fearsome Akhtar and Asif probably deluded them, perhaps they misjudged the mood in the Pak dressing room.

Sri Lanka paid the price as Pakistan bundled them out for 253. Abdul Razzaq was the chief destroyer with the ball, taking four wickets in his 7.2 overs.

There was still hope for the Lankans as their score was the best total on this Sawai Mansingh Stadium wicket since it was re-laid two months ago.

Razzaq and Malik, however, had different plans. They put on 54 runs for the seventh wicket to bury the doping scandal and give Pakistan a four-wicket win.

Making 254 was never going to be easy for Pakistan against Chaminda Vaas and Muttiah Muralitharan. But the way the two young openers, Mohammad Hafeez and Imran Farhat, started the innings gave rise to hope in the Pak dressing room.

Farhat, in particular, looked calm and calculated during his knock of 53 off 64 balls. Skipper Younis Khan (7) and Shahid Afridi (1), though, made the chase look difficult before the ever-reliable Mohammed Yousuf steadied the innings with Shoaib Malik.

However, a foolish attempt to steal a run off a misfield left Yousuf stranded in the middle, and the faces peering out of the Pak dressing room turned red.

Kamran Akmal made a brief but important contribution before it all came down to Razzaq.

Fifty-three runs from the last 7.5 overs were needed to pull off a famous win — but no reliable bat was to follow this last recognised pair. Thus, Muralitharan and Vaas were brought back into the attack by Mahela Jayawardene to wind up the innings.

However, the next 36 balls witnessed an amazing game of cricket. Razzaq never hesitated for a moment as he attacked the best the Sri Lankans could throw at him. The two sixes he hit, off Muralitharan and the match-winner off Dilhara Fernando, made a loud, clear statement — ‘Don't count us out’!

Sri Lanka had their chances in between; Razzaq was dropped by TM Dilshan at point off Vaas, and that proved the turning point.

Fortune does favour the brave, as Razzaq and Pakistan demonstrated, fighting and winning against all odds.