In the opening ODI match on the Pakistan Tour of India, the hosts did not fail to impress upon the visitors their intentions to remain the superior cricketing side with a level-headed 5- wicket victory against Pakistan at Nehru Stadium, Guwahati on Monday, 5th November, 2007.
After winning the toss and choosing to bat earlier in the day, Pakistan seemed all set to launch another run-fiesta against India with their openers Salman Butt and Kamran Akmal nestled in comfortably at the crease. The first breakthrough for India, however, came just at the right moment, when in the 11th over, Kamran Akmal chose to pull a short pitched one bowled by Pathan as it hit on the pad in front attracting an lbw decision against him. He was, however, not contributing much to the cause of his side and parted with a paltry 12 runs to his credit. Salman Butt was still seemingly in fine nick and went ahead to score a well-deserved half-century, painted with 8 artistic boundaries, before his life on the crease was cut short by an excellent run-out effort from Yuvraj and Dhoni, who capitalized on a grisly mix-up between Butt and Younis Khan. Pakistan was now 2 wickets down for 69 runs. Younis Khan and Mohammad Yousuf then took the task squarely on their shoulders and started building up a steady partnership with no signs of hurry or unnecessary aggression, which, together with some excellent bowling effort from Kartik and Harbhajan, contributed to a lowering of the run-rate.
The turning point of the innings came in the 30th over, when Younis Khan tried to pick one off Harbhajan only to end up in the safe hands of Pathan in the deep. In came Shahid Afridi, all set to effect another recovery act, but providence had only a cameo of 31 runs off 32 balls to his credit before being stumped by Dhoni off Tendulkar. The little Maestro soon picked up dangerous Shoaib Malik as well, turning the match around on his head. Misbah-ul-Haq made some impression with the bat by sketching another blazing picture of 27 runs off 26 balls, supported very well at the other end by Mohammad Yousuf, who ended up with an unbeaten 83 off 88 with Pakistan totalling upto the cricket score of 239 runs for 7 wickets in the prescribed 50 overs.
India had their goal clearly in sight as Sachin and Ganguly descended on the field wielding their mighty willows only to see the mightier one of Sachin Tendulkar deceive him early in the innings at the personal score of 4 when Shoaib Akhtar effected an lbw decision against the little master, warning another possible early collapse of Indian wickets. The avalanche in the waiting was, however, intelligently avoided by Ganguly and Gambhir, who built up a solid partnership of 82 runs before a lethargic Ganguly was quite easily run-out by Butt and Akmal, with an important 39 runs to his credit. Gambhir feasted on the Pakistani bowling and ended up being clean bowled by Shahid Afridi at a personal score of 44 runs off 51 balls. Next, came in the warrior pair of Yuvraj and Dhoni who took charge of the situation and made sure that efforts of their fellows and the prayers of Indian cricket fans do not go in vain. An excellent partnership of 105 runs was built up by the duo which set the stage for a comfortable Indian victory. Both Yuvraj and Dhoni were given out at the fag end of innings at the personal scores of 58 and 63 runs respectively. In came Irfan Pathan and Robin Utthappa to sensibly steer India to victory with their little but nonetheless important personal contributions. Dhoni was declared man of the match for leading the team from the front with an excellent display of batting and three successful wicket-taking efforts against Pakistan. It was a match where team spirit of the Indian cricket team shone out in a commendable winning effort. The things have only grown more interesting and the excitement is sure to reach greater levels in anticipation of what might come off another confrontation between the two sides in the next ODI set to be played at Chandigarh on Thursday.
Last Updated on 24 August 2012