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Malik seals it with a six

Teams up with skipper Hafeez to lead Pakistan to a five-wicket victory in the first T20 match of the series after restricting India to 133 for nine. Subhash Rajta reports.Scorecard

india Updated: Dec 26, 2012 00:04 IST
Subhash Rajta

An elderly woman on crutches was struggling to get through a sea of people. The crowd though seemed reluctant to acknowledge her age and discomfort and give her way. Finally, a policeman walked over and showed her into the stadium.

It was that sort of day in Bangalore. No one wanted to stay home. Everyone wanted to be at the Chinnaswamy Stadium to watch the first contest in a bilateral series between India and Pakistan after five years.

While there wasn't any doubt about which team they had come to root for, they still left nothing to imagination. Every second cheek had the Tricolor painted on it, every third head sported a bandana with India emblazoned across it and the stadium was a sea of blue.

Typical Tussle
And they got to see everything they had come hoping for, well almost - fantastic individual performances, a fierce contest that went into the last over, and some exchange of eye glares and verbal volleys.

The only thing that didn't go as per their wish was the result - Pakistan beat India by five wickets in the first of two Twenty20 ties.

And India had only their batsmen to blame who, after a solid 77-run opening stand, collapsed like a pack of cards and set Pakistan a modest target of 134 runs.

Still, thanks to superb effort from the bowlers and their fighting spirit, India managed to drag the contest into the final over where Shoaib Malik sealed the deal with a straight six off Ravindra Jadeja.

Beginner's charm
While debutant Bhuvneshwar Kumar brought India back into the game with a three-wicket haul first up, a 100 plus partnership between skipper Mohammad Hafiz and Shoaib Malik tilted the game decisively in Pakistan's favour.

Just when all looked lost, Ishant Sharma and Ashok Dinda sent down some fiery stuff, picking up wickets and stifling the flow of runs.

The crowd egged on India and Pakistan looked like buckling under pressure before clinching the win.

Batting Concern
While India would be happy with how they fought back, the batsmen will need to have a hard look on how they collapsed.

The trigger was Gambhir's run out - the left-hander has been involved far too many run outs of late. Once he got out to make it 90 for 2, no batsman other than the openers crossed 10.

The big positive for India would be Bhuvneshwar Kumar. The debutant bowler showed superb control and moved the ball both ways to pick three wickets.

Ajinkya Rahane, too, looked good in his 42. Gambhir struggled against the tall Mohammad Irfan before adapting quickly and playing some fluent strokes.