BANGALORE: Pakistan on Tuesday snatched a thrilling five-wicket victory over India in the first Twenty20 International to record its first win in shortest format against arch rivals, whose bad streak continued close on the heels of their disastrous series against England.
South Asias bitter rivals met again on the cricket ground, marking a gradual thaw in their decades-old rivalry. The first bilateral series between India and Pakistan since November 2007, comprising two Twenty20 matches and three one-day internationals, began Christmas Day with a Twenty20 match in Bangalore.
India’s batting woes saw them end on a mere 133 for nine in 20 overs which the Pakistan chased down with two balls remaining, after suffering early jitters due to a brilliant opening spell by debutant Bhuvneshwar Kumar.
Pakistan needed 10 off the final over and Shoaib Malik hit a straight six off the fourth delivery off Indian bowling’s weakest link Ravindra Jadeja to clinch the issue.
Skipper Mohammed Hafeez played a classic knock of 61 off 44 balls which included six fours and two sixes and added 106 runs for the fourth wicket with veteran Malik who contributed 57 off 50 balls with three fours and three sixes. The stand proved to be decisive in the end.
Debutant Bhuvneshwar had reduced Pakistan to 12 for three taking all the wickets in his first two overs when they started the chase.
The UP seamer started by bowling outgoing deliveries to left-hander Naseer Jamshed and then got one to nip back which crashed into his off-stump.
He then removed Ahmed Shehzad with a delivery that was fuller and moved a shade to find the edge which was taken by Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
The best was saved for Umar Akmal who got a ball that came back sharply to send his middle-stump for a walk. Skipper Dhoni decided to use him in a single spell and he ended with brilliant figures of 4-0-9-3.
Down in the dumps at 12 for three, skipper Hafeez and senior player Malik came together and slowly built a partnership.
The duo were watchful in the beginning but once they settled down, they played some lovely strokes. Virat Kohli came in for some punishment. Both Malik and Hafeez hit Yuvraj’s long hops for a six each over deep mid-wicket to ease the pressure off.
The 50 run partnership came off 53 balls and Pakistan were well on their way to victory.
Hafeez completed his half century with a big straight six off Jadeja. When Hafeez was finally out off Ishant Sharma’s bowling Pakistan needed less than 20 runs to win.
Earlier, Indian batting suffered a sensational collapse as they were restricted for a paltry 133 for nine after being put into bat by Mohammed Hafeez.
Indian openers Ajinkya Rahane and Gautam Gambhir made a solid start putting on 77 for the first wicket but everything went haywire from then on as they lost nine wickets for an addition of 47 runs.
Such was the plight of Indian batting that save Gambhir who scored 43 (5×4, 1×6) and Rahane who smashed 42 off 31 balls, all the other frontline batsmen failed miserably. Only Yuvraj Singh and Suresh Raina managed double-figure scorers with contributions of 10 runs each.
While Pakistan bowlers led by off-spinner Saeed Ajmal did a splendid job in the back 10, the Indian batsmen showed lack of application and their running between the wickets was also pretty poor.
Umar Gul was the pick of the Pakistan bowlers grabbing three for 21 after conceding 13 in his first over while Ajmal chipped in with two for 25 keeping things under check during middle overs.
However, India had started on a positive note with Rahane taking on tallest international cricketer Mohammed Irfan (7 feet 1 inch) and Sohail Tanveer with consumate ease. Gambhir was a bit scratchy at the other end as he found it difficult to get going.
The shot of the Indian innings was Rahane’s six over extra cover off Ajmal’s delivery. After settling down, Gambhir also hit Gul for a six over mid-wicket.
It was Shahid Afridi who gave Pakistan the first breakthrough when Rahane tried to repeat the lofted shot over extra cover only to be holed out by Umar Akmal at long-on. India’s slide started after this first wicket. Gambhir who was just looking good for a big score then failed to make it for a second run after he had run the first one slowly.
Yuvraj Singh started with a big heave over deep mid-wicket that went for a six while Kohli also helped himself to a boundary off Hafeez’s bowling.
Irfan came back for his final over and Kohli found the awkward bounce generated by Irfan difficult to handle and was caught behind to a rising delivery. Skipper Mahendra Singh
Dhoni was fooled an Ajmal delivery that turned a shade to kiss the side of the off-stump.
From 77/0, India were 108 for four and soon it became 115 for five with Yuvraj being caught in the deep. Raina became Ajmal’s second victim as his leg-stump was uprooted.
Rohit Sharma was out by a brilliant direct throw from Shoaib Malik while Ravindra Jadeja was beaten for pace and bounce by Umar Gul as he was caught behind. Ishant Sharma was yorked and suddenly India were 124 for nine.
India: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (capt), Gautam Gambhir, Ajinkya Rahane, Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina, Rohit Sharma, Ravindra Jadeja, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ishant Sharma, Ashok Dinda.
Pakistan: Mohammad Hafeez (capt), Ahmed Shehzad, Nasir Jamshed, Kamran Akmal, Umar Akmal, Shoaib Malik, Shahid Afridi, Sohail Tanvir, Umar Gul, Saeed Ajmal, Mohammad Irfan.A defiant India will take on an upbeat Pakistan Christmas night on Tuesday in a high-octane T20 tie at the Chinnaswamy stadium in this tech hub amid unprecedented security.(Agencies)
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