India make pulp of Pak in Karachi
Yuvraj and Dhoni displayed prowess as tourists crushed the hosts by 8 wickets and finished ODI series 4-1. ScorecardUpdated: Feb 25, 2006 18:57 IST
Wearing the cloak of majesty, Yuvraj Singh played an innings even his biggest enemy would admire. Not that he picks lesser mortals for a bout in the ring.
Ever since he made his debut with that 80-ball 84 against Steve Waugh's invincibles at Nairobi five years ago, Yuvraj has time and again won matches most could only dream of.
Chasing 287 in the fifth ODI at Karachi on Sunday, India reached home in 46.5 overs, ending the series at 4-1.
Cramps made him limp on Sunday, but Yuvraj carried on to score a hundred (107 not out, 93 balls, 14 fours) with such panache that it almost put MS Dhoni's four towering sixes in the shadows.
Dhoni (77 in 56 balls, 6 fours, 4 sixes) did play his part to perfection. His 146-run partnership for the third wicket with Yuvraj broke Pakistan's hopes of a consolation win.
Once Rahul Dravid (50 in 82 balls, 6 fours) was deceived by a slower ball from Mohammad Sami, the fastest Pakistani after Shoaib Akhtar, the battle became intense.
It wasn't Sami or the other Mohammad - Asif, but the duo of Iftikar Anjum and Yasir Arafat who hardly gave the width to these two free-flowing Indians to free their arm. The asking rate was climbing higher than eight runs per over.
The impossible asking run rate
Yuvraj kept his cool. So did Dhoni. Runs they were stealing and at times Dhoni and Gautam Gambhir (runner for Yuvraj) were converting ones into twos. And then they launched into an all out attack with Dhoni making six-hitting look the easiest thing on earth.
"The required rate was climbing all the time. But when you have Dhoni at the other end, you don't really feel the pressure. To me, Dhoni is the Man-of-the-Match and the Man-of-the-Series," said a smiling Yuvraj, who was recipient of both theawards.
Dhoni won't agree though. "I think it was Yuvi's master-knock that stole the match from Pakistan," he said. But one thing was sure that, like great fast bowlers, India's two young batsmen hunted in pair on Sunday.
Dravid, too, played an invaluable knock. In the absence of Sachin Tendulkar, he opened with Gambhir. Coupled with his strong defence, his immaculate strokes through the off side gave India the good platform that you need while chasing a target as big as 287.
9,000 for The Wall
Dravid also got past 9,000 runs in ODIs and in Gambhir (38 in 50 balls, 6 fours) he had someone who showed the skills to play strokes on both sides of the wicket.
The left-hander even stepped out to Asif and he also didn't allow Sami to get into rhythm. But the Delhi player failed to convert his start again when he was caught behind off Ifitkar Anjum while going for an extravagant shot.
Dravid was looking set to bat through the 50 overs, but Sami's slower ball forced him to give a low catch to Shoaib Malik at mid on.
Just when Pakistan were almost certain to lose their way, Mohammad Yousuf and Younis Khan joined hands and ensured that Indians, unlike Multan, would not have an easy target to chase in Karachi.
The sensible batting from both during that 95-run partnership for the fifth wicket helped Pakistan post a total of 286/8 in the stipulated 50 overs.
They could have got past the 300 mark had Abdul Razzaq (24 in 15 balls, 2 fours, 1 six) stayed for a few more overs. Rahul Dravid looked relieved after taking the catch at square leg when Razzaq mistimed his shot off RP Singh.
Yousuf (67 in 85 balls, 6 fours) hit his 47th half century. Although it came after the series has been lost, but it was even then a crucial knock considering Pakistan batting were on the verge of collapse in this 'dead' fifth match too.
With him was Younis Khan (74 not out in 79 balls, 3 fours, 2 sixes). The duo steadied the Pak ship after it was in the middle of a storm. Sreesanth (4/58) was on a roll and at the fall of Shoaib Malik, Inzamam-ul Haq (21 in 20 balls, 3 fours, 1 six) came in to join Yousuf.
ThePakistan captain took his time to find his feet. But once he did, runs started flowing. Rahul Dravid brought Ramesh Powar in. The offie tossed the ball and the Pak captain came down and hit him over long on.
Next ball could not have been straighter. Inzy got it wrong, bent on his knees to sweep, but failed to connect and Steve Bucknor ruled him leg before.
Pakistan lost their captain and the man of crisis. Younis joined Yousuf and their partnership began.
Sreesanth rises to the occasion
Unlike the first four ODIs, Dravid used Sreesanth as the first changed bowler. And he surprised Imran Farhat (24) in his fourth ball, a sharp bouncer. Farhat tried to pull, but all he could manage was a top edge, and the ball rested in the hands of the bowler.
India got the breakthrough they were waiting for. Soon two more wickets came their way. In his next over, Sreesanth bowled another bouncer, this time Kamran Akmal (25) played the pull, which wasn't big enough to beat RP Singh at fine-leg.
Next to go was Malik who played away from the body and was caught by Suresh Raina at point.
In the absence of Irfan Pathan, Zaheer Khan finally got to use the new ball though on a wicket as flat as the National Stadium's in Karachi.
With him was Ajit Agarkar. Both got the ball to swing, but neither showed the control, pitching it all over. The two openers Imran Farhat and Kamran Akmal punished them.
Earlier, Indian captain Dravid won the toss and asked Pakistan to bat first in this fifth ODI on Sunday.
India have already clinched the series 3-1. Sachin Tendulkar and Pathan have been rested.
Pakistan have dropped Salman Butt and Rana Naved-ul Hasan.
India: Gautam Gambhir, Rahul Dravid, Yuvraj Singh, Mohammad Kaif, Suresh Raina, MS Dhoni (wk), Ajit Agarkar, Ramesh Powar, Zaheer Khan, RP Singh, Sreesanth.
Super Sub: Murali Kartik.
Pakistan: Imran Farhat, Kamran Akmal (wk), Shoaib Malik, Mohammad Yousuf, Inzamam-ul Haq, Younis Khan, Abdul Razzaq, Yasir Arafat, Mohammad Sami, Mohammad Asif, Rao Iftikar.
Super Sub: Faisal Iqbal.
First Published: Feb 25, 2006 18:57 IST