We did it: First series win in Pak | india | Hindustan Times
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We did it: First series win in Pak

David Dhawan, Director No. 1, is under siege. Among the questions he was fielding after India got 293 is: "Who will win?", writes Avirook Sen.

india Updated: Mar 25, 2004 11:03 IST

David Dhawan, Director Number 1, is under siege. Among the questions he was fielding after India got 293 is: Who will win? The 'goodwill tour' having gone so much to script, everyone half expects Dhawan to know the answer. Of course he doesn't. And he's got more important questions on his mind.

"Mandira kahan hai?" he asks.

If you have filmed this series you might just have a masala film to rival any of Dhawan's. It would have a great market in India as a romantic comedy ("with social message", as they say in Bollywood).

And Karachi's pirates would no doubt have ensured this poignant film about peace and pluck reaches at least a hundred million Pakistanis.

But us cricket lovers, we'll take the series like it was, complete with Ms Bedi untraceable in the Gaddafi Stadium. Most of all, we'll take 3-2 India, thank you.

Now spare a thought for Pakistan, with nearly 10,000 Indian guests, this country is in a complete no-win situation. Had India lost, they would have to offer genuine commiserations. Now that India's won by 40 runs they're expected to congratulate their guests. One doesn't know which would have been tougher.

But to the game. In the morning, hooting starts — not from (another) impeccably behaved crowd, but from Pervez Musharraf's convoy. The sirens command the ocean of people outside in his vehicle's path to part and make way. Sadar saab is finally at the Gaddafi Stadium, its gates now sealed. As army choppers hover above the ground, he takes his place in the chairman's box.

As the General settles down, Mohammad Sami pulls off a coup. He gets Tendulkar with one that moves away. Two for 79. And as the Pakistanis confabulate, Musharraf sits flanked by two Indians — Dina and Nusli Wadia.

Mohammad Ali Jinnah's daughter and grandson are in Lahore. Dina is on her first visit to Pakistan after being disinherited by her father.

That the Wadias sit next to the President doesn't surprise anyone. Their standing in India does.

Not many people in Pakistan seem to know that Bombay Dyeing is a household name in India. Or that Wadia is one of the richest individuals in the country. Or that he’s a man with substantial political influence in the present BJP-led government. The information is met with a "Really?"

"Tension please!" says scorer Abdul Hameed, meaning — and getting — 'attention', just like every other press box scorer on this tour. The General has left the stadium and the captain of the Indian team is leaving the pitch exactly as he did in the first game in Karachi. Out for 45, disgusted with himself.

But Laxman, who's looked as if his spikes screwed themselves secure in the crease the moment he took guard, finds that his feet can actually move. The result is a high-class 107. When he's out, it looks like the Indian innings will fizzle out. Instead, Balaji and Pathan crack vital runs to get the score up to 293.

The Pakistan innings doesn't get off to the best start. Heavy-scoring Hameed goes early. Youhana is unlucky, out leg before when he has clearly nicked it. And when Taufiq Omar finds his bails doing a ballet in the air, it's 26 for 3.

Younis Khan slashes one to point. Now, at 59 for 4, Pakistan is struggling. There's some serious pushing and shoving in the Imran Khan enclosure. Indians and Pakistanis tell each other to calm down. Cops rush in, thinking there's a skirmish. The commotion is taking place around a turbaned man.

Then someone says: "It's Daler Mehndi, stupid." Mehndi takes his seat among the fans, some of whom, in India shirts, are doubly happy because Inzamam-ul-Haq has just got out caught on the boundary by Tendulkar.

Soon with Abdul Razzaq out, the crowd starts trickling out. A few minutes later, they start trickling back. Young Malik and old Moin are staging the sort of recovery this series hasn't yet seen. Will the drama ever let up?

"Tension please." It's the scorer again. Malik is out for 65 of the best runs you'll see under pressure.

Still the Pakistanis won't give up. The eighth wicket produces a 50-run partnership — off 32 balls.

It's a lot, but it's a little too late. What a series this has been.