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India pull off last-ball win

By Ashish Magotra
Last updated on: March 13, 2004 19:35 IST
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India scored a thrilling five-run victory over Pakistan in the first One-Day International in Karachi on Saturday.

The last ball decided the match, which saw a world record 693 runs being scored.

India's left-arm paceman Ashish Nehra kept his cool as he sent down the last delivery, and Moin Khan, who needed to hit a six to win the match for Pakistan, had a wild swipe only for Zaheer Khan to hold on to the ball and silence the home crowd.

Earlier, India smashed 349 runs for the loss seven wickets after being put in to bat. In the process they eclipsed their highest total of 316 for 6 against Pakistan, recorded in Dhaka in 1998.

India innings

Openers Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag were greeted by an earth-shattering roar as they walked out to open the innings after Pakistan won the toss and elected to field.

The arch-rivals were playing each other for the first time since the epic World Cup encounter in South Africa, and one could rest assured there would be no holding back on either side.

The Indians left out V V S Laxman, who was ruled out at the last minute due to stiffness in his left knee. Ashish Nehra was preferred to Irfan Pathan in the starting eleven.

Pakistan opted for a four-man pace attack, leaving out off-spinner Saqlain Mushtaq and all-rounder Shahid Afridi.

Pakistan captain Inzamam Ul-haq surprisingly decided to field first in the hot and sultry conditions that are prevalent in Karachi. His decision backfired in a big way when both Sehwag and Tendulkar were dropped early in the innings.

Shoaib Akhtar, who was extremely wayward to start off with, was the unlucky bowler on both occasions. Sehwag was dropped off the final ball of the first over itself while Tendulkar survived thanks to Akhtar himself, who overstepped in the third over.

But Tendulkar did not survive long and was dismissed in the ninth over by Akhtar, who got a measure of revenge. Naved-Ul-Hasan took a good catch at point after Tendulkar had scored 28 off 35 balls, including a top-edged six off Akhtar and four boundaries.

After 10 overs, India were 79-1. The mayhem was just about to start..

Sehwag decided to cut loose in a manner only he can. The 11th over was undoubtedly the high point of the innings for the Indian opener. Inzamam introduced Naveed-Ul-Hasan into the attack and the bowler suffered the full brunt of Sehwag's destructive prowess.

Twenty-four runs were hammered in Sehwag's unique mixture of savagery and grace. It certainly wasn't the kind of first over that the Pakistani captain was looking for from the bowler. But there is little he could do as the Indians motored to 103 for the loss of one wicket at the end of the 11th over.

The partnership, between Sourav Ganguly, who came in at number three, and Sehwag, was already worth 41 runs before the Indian skipper opened his account. Sehwag had raced away to his fifty off just 40 balls and looked all set to smash a huge hundred when Hasan dismissed him.

The bowler produced a perfect slower ball to completely fox Sehwag. At this point, Sehwag had scored 79 off just 57 balls, with 14 fours and one six, and looked good for plenty more. Even the Pakistani fans were applauding the genius of the man as he walked back to the pavilion.

But Ganguly wasn't about to let all the good work of the openers go waste. The Indian skipper played some big shots of his own as he raced away to 45 off 47 balls before being dismissed. Hasan was the successful bowler once again. He put on 72 runs for the third wicket with Rahul Dravid.

Dravid looked to be in very good touch after scoring 92 in the tour game. Off-spinner Shoaib Mailk, 50 runs off 10 overs, bowled a good spell in the middle overs to keep things tight for his skipper, but failed to get much support from the rest of his team-mates.

Dravid was joined by Yuvraj Singh in the middle at the fall of Ganguly's wicket. But the left-hander did not last too long. Hasan caused the damage once again and sent the left-hander back to the pavilion after scoring only four.

Hasan conceded 73 runs in his quota of ten overs, but also claimed three wickets that helped keep the home team in the game.

Mohammad Kaif, playing his first international game after returning from a long injury lay-off, joined Dravid. The two mixed caution with aggression and consistently picked the right balls to put away.

India reached the 300 of their innings in the 43rd over.

As Dravid neared his century, one could see his anxiety increase. It was a century he wanted very badly. He deserved it and was very unlucky to be dismissed just one short of the landmark. He tried to work away a slower delivery from Akhtar to the leg-side but only succeeded in getting an inside-edge straight onto the stumps.

The partnership between Kaif and Dravid was worth 118 and was scored at faster than a run-a-ball.

India ended up with 349 for the loss of 7 wickets in their allotted 50 overs. The total could have been higher but the last five overs fetched them just 25 runs.

Pakistan will be ruing the number of extras, a huge 38, and dropped catches. But for those lapses, they would have had a much better chance in the game.

Pakistan Innings

The Pakistani reply to the huge Indian total must have scared even the staunchest of Indian supporters.

The Indian bowlers maintained a good line and length to start with in stark contrast to the performance of the Pakistani bowlers. They stuck to the basics and that paid off for India in the form of two wickets.

By the eighth over, both the openers, Yasir Hameed (7) and Imran Farhat (24), were back in the pavilion. Lakshmipathy Balaji struck the first blow for the visitors when he got a delivery to move into Hameed and crash into his off-stump.

Farhat was dismissed trying to take the attack to the Indian bowlers. He had hogged most of the strike till that point but played one shot too many away from the body. Zaheer Khan induced the edge and Rahul Dravid made so mistake.

After the first 15 overs, Pakistan were 71 for the loss of two wickets.

Yousuf Youhana and Inzamam, the most experienced Pakistani batsman, were together in the middle. And they bided their time. They steadied the Pakistan innings before launching a fierce counter-attack on the fourth and fifth bowlers.

Sourav Ganguly tried Murli Kartik, Sachin Tendukar (34 runs off 3 overs), Virender Sehwag and himself (14 runs off 1 over) in a bid to finish the 20 overs. But Inzamam chose just the right moment to attack as he hit some huge sixes off Kartik.

Youhana joined in the fun. And Pakistan were soon motoring towards a target that could have been considered impregnable at the start of the innings.

Youhana chanced his arm at the start of his innings but with Inzamam urging him to stay cool, he eventually settled to play the perfect partner to his captain.

Inzamam, who started off sedately, showed once again why he is feared by most international teams. In a knock that brought back memories of the 1991/92 World Cup semi-final, when he scored 60 off just 37 balls in a Pakistan victory, Inzamam was just brilliant.

The duo put on 135 runs at quicker than a-run-a-ball to give Pakistan every chance of successfully chasing the Indian total.

But just when they were shifting into top gear, Youhana was dismissed, caught at long off by substitute Irfan Pathan while trying to go after Sehwag. The right-hander scored 73 off just 67 balls, including five fours and four sixes.

It was a much-needed break for the Indians but they did not get much relief as Younis Khan, making his comeback into the Pakistan side, played with courage and passion. Khan filled the void left by Youhana and the attack continued unabated.

A 109-run partnership followed as Pakistan started to inch their way towards the target. One could visibly watch Ganguly starting to grimace as each run was scored. The nerves were starting to play up; not surprisingly, considering the rate at which the runs were coming.

The tension started to grow as the crowd began chanting Inzamam's name. Every run was cheered and the adrenalin was pumping.

Inzamam, for one, almost stopped taking singles. 'Stand and Deliver' seemed to be his motto as he met each ball with ease and resounding power. His wicket was now the key. The Indians knew it as did the Pakistanis.

Kartik, who was hammered in his first eight overs, came back and bowled a vital spell. First, he dismissed Inzamam, brilliantly caught by wicket-keeper Dravid, and then claimed the important wicket of Younis Khan for 46.

Inzamam scored a brilliant 122 off just 104 balls and almost took his team to victory.

Abdul Razzaq, who was in next, used the long handle to good effect, hammering 27 off just 16 balls to make the equation more in the home side's favour.

Moin Khan (16 off 17 balls) and Shoaib Malik (7 off 5 balls) closed in on victory for Pakistan, but failed at the final hurdle as Nehra conceded just three runs in the last over to lead India to a memorable, heart-stopping victory.

Pakistan ended up with 344 for the loss of eight wickets – a world record total made by a side chasing – but still ended up on the losing side. In sum, the 38 extras they conceded while bowling proved to be their bane.

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Ashish Magotra