Younis the menace for India
Two lessons could be drawn from Wednesday’s match. Push Pakistan into a corner and rest assure they will hit back. Secondly, a team needs all departments batting, bowling and fielding working in tandem if it wants to win consistently.
Pakistan couldn’t have been in a worse shape before heading into this game. They had lost the last few games meekly, have had quite a few controversies, their skipper Shoaib Malik pulled out just before the start of the match, and they desperately needed to win the match to stay with a chance in the Asia Cup. The setting was just perfect to bring out the best from the beleaguered Pakistan side, and, they didn’t disappoint, and thrashed India by eight wickets.
Younis Khan scripted the Pakistan resurgence. The solid right-hand batsman held the side together with a superb century, anchoring the chase past India’s challenging 308 for seven, winning with 4.4 overs to spare. He found a strong support in openers Salman Butt (36) and Nasir Jamshed (53), who gave Pakistan a rousing start, and then stand-in skipper Misbah-ul-Haq (70).
The unflappable Younis withstood everything Indian attack could up with, and always kept his side ahead of the required run rate with his spirited running and timely boundaries. Misbah, too, deserves a word of praise for it would have been tough to be asked to lead the almost dispirited side at the proverbial eleventh hour and then guide the side to victory, showing super composure and temperament.
As for India, the inadequacy in their bowling finally caught up with them. India had thrashed every opposition in the tournament so far, but all their wins had come on the strength of their batting. The bowlers had failed to cope with the flat wicket and had leaked close to 300 runs in almost every game. Coach Gary Kirsten had said the other day that they had come up with certain ideas about what the bowlers had to do to be more competitive.
Earlier, Sehwag and Gambhir again gave India a rousing start. The innings lost some steam as four wickets fell rather quickly, leaving India in a spot at 129 for 4. But a sensible batting by skipper Dhoni (76) and Rohit Sharma (58) took India to over 300.
India are in a must-win situation against Sri Lanka on Thursday. If India win, they will reach final, but if they lose and Pakistan win their tie against Bangladesh, the hosts will meet Lanka in the final.