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Yuvraj, Dhoni fashion easy victory
November 05, 2007 13:06 IST
Last Updated: November 05, 2007 17:39 IST
Mahendra Singh Dhoni [Images] and Yuvraj Singh [Images] scored half-centuries to complement a disciplined show by the bowlers as India cantered to a comprehensive five-wicket victory over Pakistan in the first One-Day International of the five-match series in Guwahati on Monday.
Opting to bat first, Pakistan got off to a good start but fumbled in the middle overs before being restricted to 239 for 7 in 50 overs.
Mohammad Yousuf [Images] (83), Salman Butt [Images] (50) and Shahid Afridi [Images] (31) did the bulk of the scoring but found the going tough against the Indian spin duo of Harbhajan Singh [Images] and Murali Kartik.
It was, however, Sachin Tendulkar [Images] (2 for33) who was India's most successful bowler.
Chasing the total, India lost Tendulkar (4) early, but Sourav Ganguly [Images] (39) and Gautam Gambhir [Images] (44) steadied the boat before Dhoni and Yuvraj came up with half centuries to take the game away from Pakistan.
Dhoni was adjudged Man of the Match for his 77-ball 63, which included eight hits to the fence.
Yuvraj's 58 came off 74 balls and included six fours and a six.
The teams now move to Mohali for the second ODI on Thursday.Pakistan innings
Pakistan began well as openers Salman Butt (50) and Kamran Akmal (12) put on a 44-run partnership.
Butt, who relishes playing against India, was on song from the start during his 57-ball knock, executing several delightful wristy strokes that got spontaneous applause from the sell-out 23,000 crowd at the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium.
Zaheer Khan [Images], who strayed in line and length initially, was at the receiving end in the opening over as the Pakistani left-hander hit two boundaries.
With the other opener, Kamran Akmal, playing sedately at the other end, Butt pounced on the slightly shorter stuff by Irfan Pathan [Images] in the seventh over to disdainfully dispatch the bowler to the fence between mid-wicket and mid-on. The next delivery was a rank half volley, which also made its way to the fence.
The first wicket fell in the 11th over, after the two openers put on 44 for the first wicket; Akmal (12) was the victim of a questionable decision.
English umpire Ian Gould adjudged the opener leg before wicket to an Irfan Pathan delivery that seemed to have pitched outside the leg stump.
The run-rate slowed down as the Indian pacers bowled intelligently and did not allow the Pakistani batsmen to play off the front foot. The visitors found the going tougher when host skipper M S Dhoni introduced spin by bringing on Harbhajan Singh in the 18th over.
The over saw Butt completing a well-deserved half century (56b, 8x4) with a couple to deep cover, but the 23-year-old Pakistani departed to the very next delivery following a terrible mix-up with vice-captain Younis Khan.
Butt edged the ball to extra cover and set off for a single, but Younis sent him back.
Yuvraj Singh displayed quicksilver reflexes as he picked the ball in a flash and threw it to Dhoni, who did the rest.
Murali Kartik was brought on in the next over, and he immediately started getting sharp turn. He used the spin-friendly conditions intelligently to keep the Pakistani batsmen under check.
Only 33 runs came between the 11th and 20th over. With the two spinners operating in tandem scoring became difficult and Pakistan were 91 for 2 at the halfway stage.
Kartik was unlucky not to get a wicket, as Sourav Ganguly dropped Mohammad Yousuf on 9, with the Pakistani total reading 94 for 2.
Ganguly rushed from extra cover to wide mid-off to take the skier, but failed to reach the ball.
Younis (25) brought up the hundred of the innings with two runs off Kartik in the 29th over, but his painstaking stay at the crease came to an end soon as Pakistan were reduced to 104 for 3.
Younis tried to break the shackles by darting down the track to Harbhajan and attempted to clear the long on fence, but the ball flew straight to Pathan, who gleefully accepted the offering. The Pakistani vice-captain faced 57 balls without getting a boundary; in fact there was not a single hit to the fence between the 14th and the 34th over.
Finally, Afridi ended the jinx by lofting Zaheer Khan over long off for the first six of the innings in the 35th over. He and Yousuf then gradually turned things around with a 59-run partnership of 54 balls.
Afridi charged down the track and tried to send Sachin Tendulkar over the ropes, but the bowler kept the delivery wide, the batsman missed the line and the Indian skipper did the rest.
Pakistan were only 165 for 4 after 40 overs, but scored 74 runs in the last ten overs, thanks to the late charge provided by Yousuf and Misbah.
Joining Yousuf after skipper Shoaib Malik [Images] (2) got out in the 41st over, Misbah rose to the occasion with some fine slog hits that helped improve the run rate.
The two put on 68 runs of only 54 balls till they were separated in the last over, when Misbah ballooned a Zaheer delivery to Harbhajan, who ran in from long off and took the catch.
Abdur Rahman was run out of the last ball without bothering the scorer.
Yousuf was unbeaten on 83 off 88 balls, and involved in two 50-plus partnerships with Shahid Afridi (31 off 32 balls) and Misbah-ul Haq (27 off 26 balls) for the fifth and sixth wickets respectively, as Pakistan posted 239 for seven wickets.
Chasing 240 for victory, India lost Tendulkar as early as in the third over when Shoaib Akhtar [Images] trapped the batsman on his personal score of four.
The left-handed duo of Ganguly and Gambhir, however, did not let the setback affect the hosts and benefited from the butter fingered Pakistani fielders who floored three catches. Gambhir alone got two back-to-back lives in an Akhtar over.
Both batsmen played with caution but did not hesitate to free their arms whenever they got loose deliveries. Ganguly hit Umar Gul over his head for a six, while Gambhir found boundaries at regular interval. A mix-up between them saw Ganguly return run out in the 17th over -- after featuring in a 82-run stand with Gambhir.
Four overs later, Afridi castled Gambhir, leaving him six runs short of a well-deserved half century.
That brought Yuvraj and Dhoni in the middle and the left-right duo milked the Pakistani attack with consummate ease.
Yuvraj came down the crease to hoick Abdur Rehman over midwicket for his only six, while Dhoni did not have trouble finding occasional boundaries. The mercurial duo forged a 105-run stand for the fourth wicket to dash whatever hopes Pakistan had to crawl back into the match and though Yuvraj departed in the 43rd over and Dhoni in the 45th, by then it was just a matter of completing the formalities, which Robin Uthappa (11 not out) and Irfan Pathan (5 not out) did in due course.