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Sachin helps India clinch series

This is India’s only 2nd ODI series win over Pakistan on home soil, the 1st after 1983, reports Subhash Rajta.

cricket Updated: Nov 16, 2007 11:19 IST
Subhash Rajta
Subhash Rajta
Hindustan Times

The boisterous stadium went quiet, the crowd quite unable to believe their eyes as Sachin Tendulkar walked back to the pavilion after missing another well-deserved century, having fallen on 97.

Just when the little master was about to step into the pavilion, the stunned crowd woke up, and the stadium resonated with a thunderous applause, in appreciation of another fabulous knock from the master. Tendulkar had set the tone, India were well on the way to securing the series.

The smiles were, thus, restored to the glum faces as Yuvraj Singh and Mahendra Singh Dhoni did not let Tendulkar's massive effort go in vain, guiding India to a six-wicket win with an unbeaten stand of 101 runs for the fifth wicket.

The captain and his deputy, seemingly carrying from where they left off in the last match at Kanpur, made 45 and 53, respectively, as India cruised home with 21 balls to spare.

This was India's only second ODI series win over Pakistan on home soil, the first after 1983.

Terrific Tendulkar

The foundation of the victory was laid by Tendulkar's knock, giving India a headstart in pursuit of the target of 256. He was quickly off the blocks and when that happens, there is virtually no stopping him. He didn't bother to have a look neither at the wicket nor at the bowlers, as the strokes came in a torrent from his willow right from the start.

Even as Ganguly fell and Gambhir fell quickly, he continued in the same vein, unleashing cuts, punches and drives on either side of the wicket to bring up his half century with ten boundaries. His blistering speed gave Sehwag a chance to settle down and pace his innings with ease.

The duo looked all set to take the team home when an unfortunate run-out sent Sehwag (43) back.

By then, Sachin had stormed into the nervous nineties and the air in the stadium became heavy with anticipation and expectation. Everyone must have thought it couldn't happen again; but Umar Gul broke a billion hearts when he forced Sachin edge on to his stumps.

This could have proved the turning point of the game. The Pakistan team must have heaved a huge sigh of relief and looked alive for the first time even since Sachin began the onslaught.

But then, Yuvraj and Dhoni aren't the ones to hand over the initiative without a fight. They have built a reputation for themselves of thriving under pressure and finishing the games; and they lived up to it yet again by taking India to a consummate wicket win.

Earlier, the Pakistan innings was also built around a special knock from Mohammed Yousuf, in partnership with the other Y guy, Younis Khan. Yousuf, Pakistan’s rock in recent times, had been largely quiet so far in the series, but he came good just when Pakistan needed him the most. With India pushing to wrap up the series here, he came up with a super 99 to help Pakistan set a target of 256. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough.

First Published: Nov 15, 2007 14:09 IST