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Pakistan thrash India Sportsdesk | August 21, 2004 23:44 IST


Pakistan crushed India in the first match of the Holland tri-series in Amstelveen on Saturday.

They won the rain-shortened One-Day International by 66 runs, with Shoaib Malik coming up with a superb all-round performance, scoring 68 runs and claiming three wickets, to claim the man-of-the-match award.

India won the toss and elected to field. They were without Sachin Tendulkar, who was ruled out with a tennis elbow. Rohan Gavaskar, who impressed in Australia, came into the squad.

Skipper Ganguly has publicly stated his preference for seven batsman in the playing eleven and that's exactly what India went into the match with -- seven batsmen, three fast bowlers and a sole spinner in Anil Kumble. Ajit Agarkar, who came into the squad for Zaheer Khan, joined Irfan Pathan and Lakshmipathy Balaji to make up the pace attack.

Pakistan got Shahid Afridi to open the batting, but the rest of the side was unchanged from the one that played in the Asia Cup.

Thunderstorms are expected throughout the week and we got an early indication of what to expect when rain delayed the start. The match was reduced to 36 overs a side.

The Pakistani batsmen were kept in check by the consistent line and length adopted by Ajit Agarkar, Irfan Pathan and Balaji early on.

Shahid Afridi tried to get going and hit 19 runs off just 14 balls but then miscued a ball and was brilliantly caught by Kaif at point.

All-rounder Shoaib Malik however ensured that there would be no collapse. Even though the Indian bowlers were on top, Malik stuck to his task gamely. His 68 off 67 balls was the cornerstone of the Pakistan innings.

Malik shared a hurricane 64-run partenership for the fourth wicket with vice-captain Yousuf Youhana as Pakistan slowly reeled back the early advantage that the Indians had gained.

Abdur Razzaq and Moin Khan provided the late charge with a whirlwind 56-run stand for the unbroken seventh wicket that lifted the team from 136 for six in the 27th over to the final score.

Razzaqs scored an unbeaten 35 off 27 balls, including two sixes and a four, while Moin Khan was unbeaten on 27, which came off 20 balls.

The last two overs, including one of Ajit Agarkar that was smashed for 20, cost India 32 runs. Balaji was the pick of the Indian bowlers, claiming three wickets for 27 from seven overs.

Pace sensation Irfan Pathan was taken to the cleaners by the belligerent Pakistanis. He returned none for 57 from seven overs.

Pakistan ended up with a competitive 192 for six in the 33 overs possible.

India were playing without their most experienced batsman, Sachin Tendulkar. His absence invariably puts tremendous pressure on the remaining batsmen. In recent times the Indian team has shown the ability to make light of the loss, but today was not one of those days.

Sehwag started in typical fashion, going hard at every ball. He scored 17 off 15 balls before he tried to hit a fuller delivery from Shabbir Ahmed through mid-wicket, but hit it straight to Malik, who made no mistake.

Sehwag has shown the tendency to play the kind of short quick-fire knocks that had become Afridi's trademark. But his talent as a batsman is greater and he certainly needs to place a higher price on his wicket.

Ganguly and V V S Laxman kept a cool head and things proceeded smoothly till 65 for 1 at the end of the tenth over. But the fall of Sourav Ganguly's wicket opened the floodgates.

Ganguly was gone for 25 trying to pull a short ball; it went only as far as Yousuf Youhana was at square leg.

From that point, the pitch came into play as well. The ball was starting to turn sharply and Shahid Afridi (20 for 4) and Shoaib Malik (18 for 3) polished off the rest of the Indians.

India lost their last nine wickets for 58 runs. Laxman, who top-scored with 37, seemed to be the only batsman who gained a measure of confidence on this wicket. None of the other batsmen made any telling contributions with the bat.

India were all out for 127 runs in only 27 overs. It was a humiliating defeat and the despair on Ganguly's face at the end of match had a story of its very own. Pakistan won by 66 runs and claimed the bonus point as well.

In hindsight, Ganguly's decision to bat first may well have been wrong. One can be sure that in the remaining matches of this tri-series, the captain who wins the toss will surely elect to bat first.

India take on Australia in a must-win encounter on Monday.

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