Abu Dhabi: Pakistan win first ODI
Despite losing two quick wickets, Younis Khan kept his cool and fashioned Pakistan's fine six-wicket win over India in the first ODI of the two-match DLF Cup on Tuesday.
Pakistan were never in trouble once their bowlers dismissed India for 197 after Rahul Dravid had opted to bat. Younis (71 not out in 96 balls, 4 fours, 1 six) shared a fine partnership for the third wicket with skipper Inzamam-ul Haq.
The Pak vice-captain stayed till the end to script what was indeed a very good win.
Ajit Agarkar and Sreesanth bowled well on a pitch that kept low but the target was too small for them to defend.
The fall of Inzamam and Mohammad Yousuf did give India some sort of a chance, as at that stage Pakistan still needed more than 50 to win.
But Younis, the man-of-the-match, was emphatic and with him was Kamran Akmal (24 not out in 34 balls, 3 fours), and the two took Pakistan home with nine balls to spare.
And this was after the Indian batsmen struggled to score on a slow pitch. Venugopala Rao (61 not out in 93 balls, 3 fours) did all he could, but India fell at least 40/50 runs short on this wicket.
It was only after 20 overs had been bowled that Dravid finally decided to use his two spin weapons -- Ramesh Powar and Harbhajan Singh.
The two off-spinners bowled in their contrasting styles with Powar teasing the batsmen with his flight and Harbhajan with flatter trajectory.
Dravid set an attacking field, knowing that he had to get Pakistan out. But Younis and Inzamam had become accustomed to the pitch. And Pakistan reached the 100-mark in the 26th over.
Both the batsmen were cruising along. And when they needed just over 50 to wrap up the match, Inzamam (40 in 73 balls, 4 fours) came down the wicket to hit Powar out of the park. But the burly batsman could not pack the punch and his shot rested in the hands of Venugopala Rao at long on.
Pakistan's third wicket fell at 146 and with that the 86-run partnership between Inzamam and Younis was over. Mohammad Yousuf joined Younis in the middle only to fall three overs later.
The right-hander edged Agarkar's outswinger to Dhoni and Pakistan lost another wicket within three runs.
Agarkar's inswinging beauty
It's not easy to bowl in such hot conditions. And Sreesanth realised that fast bowlers were bound to run out of energy.
After bowling five brilliant overs, he lost his line and gave too much width to Younis. Ever the shaky starter, Younis got the freedom to drive and cut.
At the other end, Agarkar was bowling beautifully. With his swing, line, length, he kept the pressure on the batsmen.
The Mumbaikar finally got the reward. His scalp - Imran Farhat (30 in 41 balls, 5 fours), the best Pak batsman of the evening.
In the 15th over, Agarkar swung the ball in and the Pakistani was later getting his bat down, the ball went between his bat and pad to hit the stump.
It was the perfect inswinging yorker, which showed the in-form batsman the way to take the unwanted walk out of the ground.
Skipper Inzamam joined his deputy Younis in the middle as Dravid brought back Irfan Pathan who was hammered by Farhat in his first spell.
Evoking memories of Saeed Anwar, Farhat was flowing with elegant drives and rasping cuts, giving Pakistan the start they needed.
The left-hander hit three fours in one over off Pathan who was struggling to put the ball in the right areas.
Farhat and his partner Shoaib Malik didn't have the same freedom against Sreesanth who was moving the ball in the air and off the pitch, and at great speed.
The ease with which Farhat was playing Pathan worried Dravid. The Indian captain wasted little time and brought Agarkar in the 8th over. Pakistan at that stage were 34/0.
India needed wickets. And eventually, they got the breakthrough they were looking for. After dancing to Sreesanth's tune throughout his innings, Malik eventually played from the crease and Dravid neatly took the edge in slip.
Pakistan lost their first wicket at 42 and it was brilliant bowling by Sreesanth.
Younis joined Farhat in the middle. And his innings began which eventually ended India's hopes!
Indians failed to score quickly on a slow pitch. And the Pakistani spinners were on a roll.
Nobody had a five-for, but they bowled well enough to restrict India to 197.
Rao scored a fine 61. Without his effort, the Indian total could have been even smaller. The Andhra batsman shared a fine partnership with Suresh Raina once India's top four batsmen had got out only for 72.
Still, India could have got a few more runs on the board. But this was not MS Dhoni's day who was bowled by Shoaib Malik for only three. And whatever hopes India had of getting some quick runs in the final 10 overs ended.
The Pakistan bowlers were keeping it tight. Runs were hard to come by. Rao was finding it tough to look for the gaps. But not Raina.
His timing had been immaculate even though Shahid Afridi and Abdul Razzaq were hardly giving any room. He was at it all the time, finding the gaps, taking the ones and twos.
This was not a 280/300 wicket. All India needed was to bat through the 50 overs. Raina and Venu did build the platform in their attempt to revive the innings.
Raina (40 in 67 balls, 3 fours) was slowly progressing towards his half-century, but the time had come to push the scoring rate.
And that was when he fell. A lofted out shot off Afridi failed to beat the man at mid-wicket. India's fifth wicket fell at 136. But this was a good 64-run partnership for the fifth wicket, one that kept Indian hopes alive.
India lose Yuvi, Pathan
India lost two wickets in the first 14 overs. But more was to follow.
Yuvraj Singh, who has been in the form of his life, could not show his class on this day.
Iftikhar Anjum's immaculate length left the Chandigarh left-hander (7) in two minds -- whether to play or not.
He eventually did a bit of both, giving Kamran Akmal his first catch in the match.
Pathan (26 in 49 balls, 3 fours) was looking good for a big one until he ran himself out. Earlier, Dravid was run out when Pathan had wanted to take a second, and this time it was he who fell.
Four wickets had fallen for 72 and in the 19th over Pakistan had every reason to smile. Rao, a gifted man with the bat, joined Raina. But the battle was getting intense.
Fall of openers
There was not much movement for the bowlers. It was ideal for batting.
And yet, Robin Uthappa and Dravid were in no mood to take any risk. They waited for the bad ball on this slow pitch. Whenever they got those, they were quick to punish.
Rana Naved-Ul Hasan was punched on the back foot by Dravid and the ball raced to the ropes, telling how fast this lush green outfield was.
Fresh from their 166-run partnership in Indore, it seemed they would give India another big start. But that was when Rana struck with Uthappa's shot went straight to the man at mid-on.
India lost their first wicket. Coach Greg Chappell's love for experimentation continued as once again it was Pathan who was sent in at number three.
Pathan came out and played the way he always does, by hitting on the rise. But this was not a pitch conducive for stroke-making. Pathan often played and missed. Dravid was quick to make the changes, playing the ball with soft hands, he was rotating the strike.
Inzamam made the first change in the 12th over, bringing Iftikhar. And soon India were to suffer the biggest blow.
Pathan stepped out and played a forcing shot off Rana to mid-wicket. Two was the call, Dravid (20) responded but he failed to beat the throw. India lost their second wicket at 46 in the first 14 overs.
It was not the start that Dravid had in his mind when he opted to bat!
India win toss:
Indian captain Dravid won the toss and elected to bat. India once again gave rest to Virender Sehwag and Mohammad Kaif, the two struggling batsmen.
India: Rahul Dravid (captain), Robin Uthappa, Yuvraj Singh, S Raina, Y Venugopal Rao, MS Dhoni, IK Pathan, RR Powar, S Sreesanth, AB Agarkar, Harbhajan Singh.
Pakistan: Abdul Razzaq, Danish Kaneria, Imran Farhat, Inzamam-ul-Haq, Kamran Akmal, Mohammad Asif, Mohammad Yousuf, Naved-ul-Hasan, Shahid Afridi, Umar Gul, Younis Khan
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