Home > Cricket > Pakistan's tour of India 2005 > Report
Inzy fashions last-ball win for Pakistan
Deepti Patwardhan |
April 12, 2005 10:43 IST
Last Updated: April 12, 2005 19:18 IST
Tuesday provided another reason why Inzamam-ul Haq is Pakistan's captain. He may not have the roar of a lion, but, surely, he has a heart of one.
While his team was falling apart, losing wickets at crucial moments, the captain stood tall, unhurried, and coasted his team to victory with the last ball of the match.
Pakistan made a record chase in the fourth One-day International in Ahmedabad on Tuesday, beating India by three wickets.
Inzamam, needing only a single to clinch the issue, found the boundary off the last delivery as Pakistan ended on 319 for seven. In winning, the visitors broke the myth that the team that bats first wins.
Sachin Tendulkar, who had helped India build a mammoth total of 315 for 6 earlier with a fine 123, was called on to bowl the final over. The ace Indian batsman kept the match hanging in balance with four dot balls in the over. But, in the end, Inzamam's steel proved too much.
The Indian bowlers, especially Laxmipathy Balaji and Ashish Nehra, were too expensive. Also, Ganguly's strategy to spread out the field immediately after the restrictions were off backfired, as Abdul Razzaq and Shoaib Malik played themselves in to give the other batsmen a solid platform.
The six-match ODI series in now tied 2-2.
India won the toss and, as per the norm in this series, elected to bat. The start of play was delayed by an hour, due to wetness in the pitch, and reduced to 48 overs a side.
Murali Karthik came in for off-spinner Harbhajan Singh, who was suffering from a side-strain, while Laxmipathy Balaji, recovering from a side-strain, replaced Irfan Pathan.
The pitch at the Motera stadium was prepared using red soil from Mumbai, which has a tendency to crack pretty easily. The curator, trying to avoid that, overdid the watering, which left it damp in the morning.
Despite scoring only 12 runs in the first three matches, it was Tendulkar who started the assault. He again found something to complain about the sightscreen at the start of the third over. He was disturbed by a white chair placed at the edge of the screen.
Sehwag, with the hangover of the wickets in Kochi and Jamshedpur, got into his shots early on the slow Motera pitch. The Delhi opener took some time to adjust to the pace of the wicket, but once he judged it, spanked Rana for three boundaries in the fourth over.
Mohammed Sami and Naveed-ul-Hasan Rana, starting with a pre-dominantly off-side field, lacked discipline. They bowled on either side of the wicket, giving the Indians easy pickings on the leg side.
The slips were off as early as the seventh over as India raced to 50 in 7.1 overs and maintained a rate of more than a run a ball for the first ten overs.
Sehwag's carelessness and Younis Khan's presence of mind gave Pakistan the breakthrough.
Tendulkar rolled the ball to short mid-wicket and Sehwag, backing up a long way, was caught strolling back casually towards the crease as Younis' direct hit brought down the stumps. The Pakistan vice-captain had been targeting Sehwag's tardy running, but the batsman had managed to block the ball with his bat earlier. (65 for 1)
Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who came in at the fall of Sehwag's wicket, began in his cavalier style, spanking four boundaries through the off side.
With the pace bowlers hardly causing any concern to the batsmen, Shahid Afridi was introduced into the attack after 13 overs.
Tendulkar greeted the leg-spinner with a six over long-on. Afridi, coming round the wicket, pitched the ball on the leg stump and Tendulkar stepped away, made room and lifted the ball over the ropes.
Inzamam-ul Haq made a double change, bringing in Abdul Razzaq for Sami. Razzaq, slower through the air, immediately posed a few questions for the batsmen. Both Tendulkar and Dhoni were beaten by the bowler in the opening over but it couldn't stop India from posting 100 in the 15th over.
Razzaq bowled 10 overs on the trot and was the most impressive bowler for Pakistan though he didn't have any wickets to show.
Once past the 50-mark, Tendulkar started getting cheeky with late cuts and reverse sweeps, trying to pierce the spread field. He brought up the 100-run partnership with Dhoni with a pull in front of square for four.
The Pakistan spinners, Afridi and Danish Kaneria, bowled well outside the leg stump, in an attempt to slow down the run-rate but the plan came unstuck as India kept finding boundaries at will. Tendulkar, having shed off his recent circumspect manner, was aggressive and used his feet beautifully to the spinners.
Dhoni was let off on 45, when Kamran Akmal failed to complete an easy stumping off Shoaib Malik.
The right-hander was out in the same over though, tickling the ball into Akmal's hands. On 47, he tried to turn the ball down the leg-side, but ended up guiding it to the Akmal, who caught it at second attempt. (194-2)
In the next over, Tendulkar completed his 38th century with a single down the leg side. Since his first hundred, Tendulkar has rarely gone without a hundred for over a year and 16 matches. He last scored an ODI century against Pakistan in Rawalpindi in the second of the five-match series.
Tendulkar hurt his hand playing that ball was also suspect in the over against Razzaq immediately after completing his hundred.
But Ahmedabad was again lucky for the Mumbai batsman. He had scored his first double century against New Zealand in 1999 at the same venue.
India's 200 came in the 34th over of the innings, but Tendulkar was starting to tire out and Ganguly, still reeling from recent failures, wrapped himself with safe hits. The Indians had to run a lot more and Tendulkar was suffering from cramps. When on 116, Sehwag came in to run for him.
As often is the case, a runner also brings along the prospect of confusion between batsmen. And Ganguly and Sehwag are easily the worst Indian batsmen between the wickets. Promptly, the Indian captain was run out for 18.
He hit the ball to short fine leg and rushed for a single. Sehwag didn't respond; Ganguly scurried for the crease but was caught well short. (242-3)
Tendulkar fell to Malik in the next over on 123, off 130 balls. The pressure was accumulating on the right-hander; trying to sweep fine, he™was bowled by the off-spinner, who had also adopted a line outside the leg stump. (248-4).
The dismissals of a tired Tendulkar and an out-of-touch Ganguly may have come at the right time for India, as it brought in fresh legs at the crease. Yuvraj Singh, also desperate to get going with the bat in the series, and Rahul Dravid provided the required impetus to the innings.
Yuvraj clubbed the Pakistan bowlers on the on-side, and though he lost Dravid (19) and Mohammed Kaif (5), the assault continued. Dravid played an uncharacteristic knock, falling to Malik while trying to pick him up for a six over mid-wicket, while Kaif hit a stunning boundary before being bowled by Sami.
But Yuvraj played the perfect finisher. He swung the bat to clear the in-field on the leg-side and scored a quickfire 35 that included six fours. The last over from Malik cost Pakistan 19 runs as Indian finished in a rush of blood on 315 for six.
If Pakistan were to attempt a successful chase, Shahid Afridi had to provide the initial spark. He did; but the fire extinguished soon.
Ashish Nehra and Laxmipathy Balaji were promptly caned by Afridi, who opened the innings with Salman Butt. The right-hander swung like a maverick, trying to pull Nehra off the very first delivery. The ball sailed to the wicketkeeper and the two exchanged a few words. The rivalry was established.
Afridi tonked Nehra for two sixes over long-on. He just picked up the full-pitched deliveries from the off-stump and dispatched them over the ropes. The Pathan was taking the Indian attack to the sword, firing to the boundaries at will. Afridi's ferocity spoiled the bowlers' line and messed up their temperament.
The usually clam and gangly Nehra was hurling angry abuses at the batsman. He went for 37 runs from his first four overs.
Balaji, who had been smashed for 22 runs from 11 balls by Afridi, deflated the adventure.Having scored 40 from 23 balls, with the help of five fours and two sixes, Afridi tried to send another ball into orbit. It skied from his hefty leading edge and came down crashing into Tendulkar's hands at mid-off. (68-1)
The biggest thorn from India's flesh was removed, but a budding pain remained. Butt, though not in a canter, was creating problems for India in his own calm and elegant way. The 19-year-old had anchored the Pakistan innings in the third ODI in Jamshedpur with a solid 101 and was looking good for another such effort.
Despite Afridi's dismissal, Butt and Abdul Razzaq kept the scoring rate soaring at almost seven runs per over. Butt, with the help of six boundaries, raced to 48 and Razzaq kept himself busy as Pakistan brought up their 100 in the 14th over.
That mark saw multiple bowling changes from the Indian captain. Ganguly introduced Virender Sehwag in the 15th over, then Murali Karthik in the 16th and Yuvraj in the 17th.
Karthik, playing his first match of the series, brought about the breakthrough with the third ball he bowled. Butt tried to sweep the left-arm spinner, who came round the wicket, and was hit in front of middle stump. (107-2). The left-handed batsman had stayed back in the crease after stepping down on the first two deliveries and was nailed by a ball that straightened after pitching.
Shoaib Malik, who had taken three wickets in the Indian innings, came ahead of Inzamam-ul Haq.
At the end of 24 overs Pakistan had scored 159 runs, well on track for a dash at the target despite losing two important wickets. Razzaq and Malik, being flexible in the batting order, also gave Pakistan a lot of batting options. So, even as the duo maintained the scoring rate without taking too many risks, there still were the big three -- Inzamam, Youhana and Younis Khan -- to follow.
Razzaq and Malik did exactly that. The Indian spinners were as ineffective as their Pakistani counterparts. Holding to a leg-stump line, the bowlers looked like going through the motions with the cushion of 315 runs behind them.
Left-arm seamer Zaheer Khan was the only one who looked to break the mould. He was deceptive while changing his pace and bowled a disciplined line. With Balaji and Nehra taking the new ball, Zaheer's role is more of a defensive bowler.
The Pakistan innings was rolling along nicely before Razzaq went for an ambitious hit. He tried to clear a waist-high leg-side full toss by Tendulkar over mid-wicket but was caught on the boundary by Karthik. (183-3) He had stitched a sensible 76-run third wicket partnership with Malik in 80 balls.
India could have got a double break but Yuvraj dropped a literal sitter. Inzamam, on six, cut Nehra straight to point, into the fielder's lap, but Yuvraj failed to grab the chance.
Nehra, who had been expensive in the previous spell, needed the wicket to gather some confidence, but, as has been the story, he was again carted around the park. Nehra went for 35 runs in his next three overs.
Malik worked the ball to deep backward square to complete his second successive fifty in the series. The all-rounder hit only two boundaries on his way to the landmark. It was also indicative of the spread field applied by India, with Malik feeding off the huge gaps on either side of the wicket.
Despite his bowling action in the throes of controversy, Malik has been able to keep his mind on the job and made a huge difference to the visiting side's batting. The 23-year-old has adapted to the situations, striking the ball hard or rotating the strike as required. Pakistan coach Bob Woolmer has also shown immense faith in the player.
With ten overs to go, Pakistan needed 63 runs and had seven wickets in hand. Right till the 38th over the visitors were beating the required rate comfortably. They got into a position of command without causing much destruction.
Karthik, striving for variation, picked a crucial wicket for India when he had Malik caught at long-off. The right-hander tried to carve the ball over the rope but it fell short; Balaji completed the catch on the boundary. (253-4)
Zaheer struck the next blow in the next over. He dug in a short one to Youhana, a compulsive hooker. Pakistan's former vice-captain instinctively swung around and the ball hit high on the bat, and into Balaji's hands at fine leg on 11. (265-5)
Two wickets in two overs and the game was again within India's grasp. An error in judgment by Younis Khan turned on the heat in the Pakistan dressing room.
Inzamam placed the ball between cover and mid-off, and the batsmen set off for some quick runs. Unexpectedly, Younis turned around for the third. Nehra threw the ball back at the non-striker's end right in front of the stumps and Zaheer knocked it down with Younis outside the crease. (279-6).
The Indians had found their urgency, and accuracy under pressure. Nehra, uncharacteristically bouncy on the field on Tuesday, affected another run-out when he caught Kamran Akmal short of the crease with a direct hit. (295-7)
Two batsmen had been run-out with Inzamam at the other end and for the first time; the Pakistan captain was least at fault.
Nehra, having been hit for 65 in his seven overs, was brought into the attack. The left-armer bowled well throughout the over giving two runs in the first five balls, but Mohammed Sami edged a ball to third man. To Nehra's despair the ball rolled over the boundary.
Fifteen runs in three overs; Inzamam on 47. The beefy batsman pulled flat and the ball was running down the fence. Tendulkar steamed in to save two runs. Inzamam picked up another single to complete his fifty, off 49 balls, with the help of four boundaries.
The Pakistan captain and Mohammed Sami kept squeezing the gaps on the off-side. Zaheer and Nehra couldn't find the yorkers and the slower balls were also carved out clinically by the batsmen.
Ganguly called for Tendulkar in the outfield after much thought. A repeat of Hero Cup 1992 was required. Tendulkar took a while to set the field, and fired in two dot balls. As the mercury was rising, Inzamam kept his cool. He found the gap again and shot off for two runs to tie the match. The field was still spread out.
But another twist was remaining. Tendulkar followed it with two more dot balls.
One run to get in one ball. All the fielders finally came in. The Pakistan, players rushing in from the dressing room, stopped in their stride.
Inzamam still wore the cloak of non-expression. After eternity, the final ball was bowled. Inzamam found the gap through cover and completed a famous victory for Pakistan.
The captain hauled his arms as his players gate crashed on the ground. India's bubble burst.
It was the first time Pakistan had successfully chased a total over 300. Inzamam stood tall on an unbeaten 60 and was also adjudged that man of the match for his effort.