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Rediff.com  » Sports » Afridi's late blitz sinks India

Afridi's late blitz sinks India

Last updated on: November 08, 2007 23:40 IST

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India's gamble to go in with just four specialist bowlers backfired as Pakistan, riding on Younis Khan's brilliant century, snatched a sensational four-wicket victory in the second One-Day International in Mohali on Thursday night.

After India rattled up an imposing 321 for 9, with Sachin Tendulkar stroking 99, Younis slammed 117 as the visitors overhauled the target with one ball to spare in the high-scoring cliffhanger.

The victory helped them to level the five-match series 1-1.

Younis and Misbah-ul Haq (49) did the spadework, but it was the flamboyant Shahid Afridi (29 not out) who dramatically changed the complexion of the game with his amazing stroke-play in the dying moments.

At one stage it looked as if the Indians would scrape through, but the charged-up Pakistanis made amends for a mid-innings slump largely because of the efforts of Younis and Misabah, who put on 102 runs for the fifth wicket.

Needing six runs off the last over, Afridi did not disappoint his colleagues in the dressing room and the visitors ultimately got past the target with one ball to spare.

Earlier, Tendulkar was distinctly unlucky to be dismissed for 99, the third time since the series against South Africa, but not before giving glimpses of his vintage stroke-play that laid the foundation for the commanding Indian total.

He found an able ally in Gautam Gambhir (57) and the two stitched a record 173-run second-wicket partnership at the floodlit PCA stadium.

Yuvraj Singh (34) was the other notable contributor.

The Indians could have registered a bigger total but lost a few quick wickets in the slog overs. Some lusty hitting by Harbhajan Singh (38 not out) late in the innings boosted the total beyond the 300-mark.

India innings

The Indian innings began on a disastrous note, the fiery Shoaib Akhtar evicting Sourav Ganguly with the third ball of the first over.

The left-handed Ganguly hit the second ball to the boundary, but played an express delivery from Akhtar on to his stumps.

Akhtar generated a fair amount of pace in his first spell and troubled both Tendulkar and Gautam Gambhir, who were content in seeing off the new ball on a pitch that offered some assistance to the pace bowlers.

Both Tendulkar and Gambhir were a little cautious in their approach initially, but unleashed a barrage of strokes after Akhtar was taken off the attack.

Tendulkar's first attacking shot was a square drive off Gul, which saw the ball race to the point boundary. He went on to blast two consecutive boundaries in Gul's next over.

The two batsmen, who scored just 26 runs in the first five overs, stepped up the pace of scoring as the ball grew a little old and stroke-play became easier.

Suddenly runs started coming in torrents as both Tendulkar and Gambhir went for their strokes, much to the delight of capacity crowd at the PCA stadium.

Pakistan captain Shoaib Malik introduced himself and fellow-spinner Shahid Afridi into the attack hoping to contain the run flow but without much luck.

Tendulkar showed scant respect for Afridi as he stepped out and clobbered him for a mighty six over deep extra cover to bring off the 150 of the Indian innings.

A hushed silence descended on the stadium when Umar Gul, who was brought back into the attack, got rid of Tendulkar on 99, the third consecutive time the master batsman has been dismissed just one short of a century.

Tendulkar went for a drive but only succeeded in edging the away-going delivery to Kamran Akmal, who pulled off a brilliant catch behind the stumps. He hit 14 boundaries and a six during his 91-ball knock.

The second wicket partnership of 173 runs between Tendulkar and Gambhir was the highest partnership on this ground, eclipsing the previous best of 163 between Pakistan's Ijaz Ahmed and Inzamam-ul Haq against India in 1998-99.

Gambhir, who notched his sixth ODI half century and his first against Pakistan, followed Tendulkar to the pavilion soon after, Gul again doing the damage.

From a commanding 179 for one, the Indians slipped to 186 for three as two wickets fell in quick succession.

Virender Sehwag, who was included in the team in place of left-arm spinner Murali Kartik, did not take too may risks as he and Yuvraj Singh set the platform for the assault in the slog overs.

Sehwag and Yuvraj scored 53 runs for the fourth wicket before Afridi struck for the visitors by getting rid of Sehwag, who was bowled as he tried to give himself room to cut a faster delivery.

Captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni joined the action after Sehwag's dismissal as the Indian batsmen tried to further accelerate the pace of scoring in the last ten overs and lost a few wickets in the process.

Gul pegged back the Indian charge to some extent by removing Yuvraj Singh (34) and Robin Uthappa (0) in the same over while Dhoni (4) was consumed by Akhtar two overs later.

Despite the solid foundation, the Indians could not get the desired runs on the board as they kept losing wickets at regular intervals.

Pakistan innings

Required to score at an asking rate of over six runs, the Pakistani run chase began on a brisk note as Salman Butt and Kamran Akmal put on more than 30 runs in the first five overs.

Required to score at an asking rate of over six runs, the Pakistani run chase began on a brisk note as Salman Butt and Kamran Akmal put on more than 30 runs in the first five overs.

Paceman R P singh drew first blood for the hosts by dismissing the out-of-form Akmal (13), who failed to keep his stroke on the ground and Yuvraj pulled off a brilliant catch at the point region.

Younis Khan, who joined the action after Akmal's dismissal, looked in fine nick as he middled the ball well and unleashed some glorious shots on both sides of the wicket.

Younis and Butt seemed to be in no discomfort as they found runs easy to come by before Pathan struck by scalping Butt (37), who played onto his stumps.

After Butt was out, the run-rate dropped to some extent, as Younis and the in-form Mohammad Yousuf found it difficult to pierce the gaps in the face of some tight bowling by the Indians.

Yousuf looked completely off-colour and consumed 25 balls for his 12 runs before falling prey to Harbhajan Singh in his first over.

Yousuf's departure turned out to be a big blow for the visitors as the asking rate kept mounting after each over.

Harbhajan was again in the thick of action when he removed captain Shoaib Malik and Irfan Pathan took a good catch at the long off boundary, leaving the Pakistanis gasping at 174 for 4 at that stage.

Younis and Misbah-ul Haq then consolidated the position for the visitors by playing some attractive shots. Though the runs started coming more freely, the asking rate continued to hover over eight.

The stylish Younis slammed a boundary off Pathan to complete his third ODI century and the first against India and then launched a blistering assault.

Suddenly, there was a touch of panic in the Indian camp. The home team failed to break the partnership which gradually assumed dangerous proportions.

The 102-run fifth wicket partnership was finally broken by Zaheer Khan, who bowled Younis for 117, an effort which came off 110 balls and contained nine boundaries and two sixes.

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