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We hate to lose

Brave new India prove for the second successive match that they are more than just a batting side. Finally, we have a team that embraces pressure instead of buckling under it. Atreyo Mukhopadhay reports. Scorecard | Scoring graph | Fingers of friendship | Forget them not

india Updated: Mar 31, 2011 04:02 IST
Atreyo Mukhopadhay

Sticking to basics is synonymous with prudence when you are limited in ability. Given the nature of their attack and the sluggishness of the pitch, it was the best option for India after putting up a decent total. A successful execution of the plan saw the Punjab Cricket Association Stadium erupt in ecstasy on Wednesday.

With dignitaries from various walks of life watching the semifinal amid a sea of blue packing the stands, the India bowlers gave a steady account of themselves to secure a 29-run win that looked rather comprehensive in the end. What should make the success sweeter was the fact that it wasn't easy and that the bowlers had to apply themselves.

The India innings followed a downward curve after a rousing start by Virender Sehwag. The slowness of the surface doesn't matter when he is in the middle and it was no different on Wednesday as he hammered Pakistan's principal pacer Umar Gul with ease.

Dropping anchor
Although Sehwag's anti-climactic departure slowed things down, the runs he plundered eased the pressure on Sachin Tendulkar and Gautam Gambhir. They could play themselves in without taking too many risks and still see the team cruising at over six runs an over.

Tendulkar's 85 will be remembered for the number of times he was dropped, but it formed the bedrock of the innings. Despite being in a commanding position, India couldn't dominate the attack. Wahab Riaz's timely strikes brought Pakistan back each time they looked like losing the plot, and at one point, it seemed as if India wouldn't last the 50 overs.

Power playhttp://www.hindustantimes.com/images/HTPopups/310311/31_03_pg18a.jpg

For the second game in succession, Suresh Raina helped India make the batting Powerplay count. He didn't go for the big shots just because the field was up. Harbhajan Singh and Zaheer Khan didn't follow suit and India could have got a few more had they given Raina the strike. Forty-three for one in that period proved crucial.

The bowlers did a commendable job and pulled things back after the Pakistan openers hit a few boundaries in the early overs. It was about bowling as straight as possible and with the natural angle when it came to the left-armers, and the bowlers stuck to their plan.

Slow poisoning
Once the boundaries dried up, the batsmen had to take chances and therein lay India's best chance. The assortment of bowlers the hosts offered got them the rewards as the batsmen succumbed to the pressure. Pics: Bigwigs in Mohali