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Hameed fashions Pakistan victory
Ashish Magotra |
March 19, 2004 14:00 IST
Last Updated: March 19, 2004 21:57 IST
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Opener Yasir Hameed missed out on a century, but his fluent 98 guided Pakistan to a four-wicket victory over India in the third One-Day International in the five-match series in Peshawar on Friday.
Fast bowler Irfan Pathan sliced through the Pakistan top order, grabbing three wickets on his return to the Indian team before Abdul Razzaq dashed the tourists' hopes with an unbeaten 53 off 52 balls.
Earlier, India recovered from a bad start to post a respectable 244 for 9 wickets, with Yuvraj Singh top-scoring with a well-made 65.
The Indian total was boosted by a quick-fire 21 off just 12 balls from Lakshmipathy Balaji.
Pakistan won the toss and put India in to bat on a pitch that, for the first time in the current series, boasted of some grass cover. Skipper Inzamam-ul Haq took heart from the conditions and took the gamble of bowling first.
The side batting first won the earlier two matches in the series.
Pakistan made no changes to their squad while India drafted in Irfan Pathan following Ashish Nehra's injury. All-rounder Ramesh Powar's gutsy showing in the second ODI at Rawalpindi enabled him retain his place in the squad.
The signs were not very encouraging for the Indian batsman. The first ball from Shoaib Akhar swung a long way and it seemed as if Haq had made the right decision.
Indian opener Virender Sehwag was dropped in the first over itself. A swinging delivery flew off the edge straight to Haq, who failed to get his hands up in time at first slip. Sehwag survived, but not for long. His end was to come soon enough.
But before that, the Indian innings was jolted by the fall of Sachin Tendulkar's wicket. Shabbir Ahmed dismissed the master batsman for a duck. Ahmed sprayed the ball around for the first four balls of the over, which extended to 14 balls, and then produced a jaffer to send the batsman back to the pavilion.
Sehwag played a few trademark shots as he raced away to 13 off 18 balls. But a ball from Ahmed squared him up and the leading edge flew to Shahid Afridi, who took a good catch at gully.
V V S Laxman was sent back to the pavilion for 3, Ahmed causing the damage again. The lanky 6' 7" inch bowler started in a very wayward manner but once he got his line he was deadly. He extracted good pace and swing from the wicket.
The Indians were tottering at 37 for the loss of three top-order wickets, and but for a 68-run partnership for the fourth wicket between Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid, the innings might have ended even quicker.
Ganguly looked tentative at the start but then played some well-timed drives through the off-side to score 39 off 41 balls. He was eventually dismissed by Razzaq, who claimed his first wicket of the series.
Dravid and Yuvraj Singh then tried to consolidate the innings with a 34-run partnership. The going was slow as the batsman tried to counter the swing and seam movement. The partnership was broken by off-spinner Shoaib Malik. He got a delivery to bounce and turn even as Dravid set up for the sweep shot. The Indian vice-captain was unlucky to be dismissed for 33 after having concentrated for 86 balls.
At this point, India lost Mohammad Kaif too. There was a real danger of the Indian innings folding up in quick time, but Yuvraj Singh showed once again why he is so highly regarded.
He rotated the strike well and scored in the company of lower-order batsman Powar (14 off 18 balls), Pathan (16 off 21 balls) and L Balaji (21 off 12 balls). The new-found maturity of this left-hand batsman eventually saw India post a respectable total.
Yuvraj received a lot of help from Balaji, who carried on from where he left off in the Rawalpindi ODI. The Tamil Nadu medium-pacer attacked Sami and Akhtar with a relish that frustrated both the Pakistani fast bowlers. A four off his legs and a six over long-on off Sami were shots that would have done a top-order batsman proud.
At the end of the 40th over, India were just 190 for the loss of seven wickets. But for the flurry of runs in the last five overs, which realised 54 for the visitors, Pakistan might have faced a much easier target.
At the start of the day, Inzamam had said, "I would like to have a target of around 250." His wish was granted.
The Indian bowlers came up with a fighting effort in a bid to defend a meager total, but were thwarted by Hameed and Razzaq.
Pathan, left out of the first two games, began the first over superbly. He got the ball to move both ways at decent pace and troubled the batsmen in general.
Hameed was lucky to survive a close lbw shout in Pathan's first over, when the ball pitched in line with the off stump and straightened to strike Hameed's pads in front of the stumps.
But success did not elude Irfan for long. Before the start of the Pakistan innings, the Indian team management would have recognized the threat posed by Shahid Afridi. The Pakistan opener scores so quickly that a total like India's could be demolished very quickly. Afridi tried to hit across the line the first ball of Irfan's second over and was clean bowled. The ball pitched on the off-stump and moved off the seam to crash into his middle stump.
Irfan struck again just four overs later. Yousuf Youhana (2) followed a widish delivery and the resultant edge flew straight to VVS Laxman, who made no mistake.
Hameed, at the other end, continued to strike the ball with style and power. It was enough to convince his home crowd of his talent and give them their money's worth.
Younis Khan took a different approach from his partner. He attacked the bowlers with gusto. Three consecutive fours in Pathan's sixth over saw the bowler being taken out of the attack.
But just when it looked like Pakistan was beginning to run away with the game, Younis Khan's luck turned on him. The right-hander backed up too far and Balaji deflected a straight drive onto the stumps.
Zaheer Khan came on as the first-change bowler, a clear indication of his bad form and the confidence Ganguly has in him. But he struck almost immediately to claim the wicket of Shoaib Malik (2).
Pakistan were 67 for 4 at the end of 15 overs.
Skipper Inzamam-ul Haq batted two positions lower than usual after complaining of acidity while fielding.
Hameed and Inzamam proceeded to play perfectly, to the requirement of the team. By this time the moisture in the air had evaporated and the ball ceased to do much.
Hameed continued to dominate the bowlers. He pulled and drove Zaheer, cut Ganguly and kept taking singles to keep the scoreboard ticking. The pressure almost never built up on Pakistan. The home team was cruising to an easy victory.
At the end of 30 overs, Pakistan were 146 for 4.
Ganguly desperately needed a wicket and Tendulkar answered his prayers. A well-disguised googly fooled Inzamam completely. The umpire gave him out almost immediately, but a close look at the television replay suggested that the ball hit Inzamam well outside the off-stump.
Razzaq, who was in next, gave Hameed good support. But just when the latter looked set for a century, he was dismissed by Pathan. A slower delivery deceived the batsman as he tried to drive the ball on the up, but looped it straight to Yuvraj at point.
Pakistan were 173 for the loss of six wickets, 72 runs from victory. Another wicket could well have consigned the home team to an unlikely defeat. But Razzaq and Moin Khan played impressively. Both batsmen took their time to get going but once they did, there was little doubt about the result of the match.
Razzaq, dropped by Tendulkar off his own bowling in the 42nd over when on 17, scored a brilliant match-clinching 53 off just 52 balls while Moin Khan rotated the strike well to score 22 off 34 balls. The duo put on an unbeaten 74-run partnership to guide Pakistan to victory.
Pakistan won the match by four wickets and now lead the five-match series 2-1.
For the first time in the series, it was an even contest between bat and ball after the 300-plus totals recorded in the first two games.