Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Pakistan’s world cup ends as India march into final

World Cup 2011 – Match Report: 2nd Semi-Final, Pakistan v India, Punjab Cricket Association Stadium, Mohali, Chandigarh, 30 March 2011 Despite much hype and excitement India were neutral’s favorites to win this high-intensity clash. India proved too strong for Pakistan who had already played beyond expectations in this tournament. But still this match provided every thing which an India-Pakistan clash promises, barring a last over nail-biting finish. Pakistan played with heart but in reality they should have actually won this match had they put some mind into their game. India strangely left out Ashwin in favor of Ashish Nehra while Pakistan went into the game unchanged. Despite much talk about possibility of Shoaib’s inclusion Pakistan backed Wahab to do the job. Dhoni won the toss and decided to bat first without hesitation. Tendulkar and Sehwag started cautiously but soon were on their way having judged the pace of the pitch. Sehwag took Umar Gul to cleaners in his second over and thumped him for 5 fours as Umar lost his line bowling on both sides of the wicket. The uptight atmosphere suddenly changed as the crowd came to life. While Sehwag was going berserk, Tendulkar took time to play himself in. India raced to 50 in just 6.2 overs. Wahab Riaz was the man who halted Indian charge by trapping Sehwag LBW. He trudged off amid complete hush after making a quick-fire 38 off 25 balls with 9 fours. Gambhir joined Tendulkar but they could not keep the momentum going as Saeed Ajmal and Afridi squeezed them with tight bowling. The crowd was buzzing when Tendulkar gave them a heart-in-the-mouth moment when he was given LBW to Ajmal. Quite astonishingly the hawk-eye showed the ball would have gone past the leg stump and crowd as well as Tendulkar came back to life. There was even more drama on the next ball as Ajmal deceived lunging Tendulkar and Kamran whipped the bails off in a flash. On umpire’s review it was too close to give as his foot had lifted just for a split second. Luck was on the side of Tendulkar who was not picking Ajmal at all. Gambhir was playing uninhibited at the other end while Tendulkar continued to live a charmed life. First Misbah dropped him when he tried to pull Afridi and then Ajmal deceived him with a doosra which went for four off the outer edge through the vacant slip. India were comfortably placed at 100 for one in 15.2 overs. The 68-run partnership was broken by Hafeez when he was stumped by Kamran for a 32-ball 27. Afridi’s patience was praiseworthy when Tendulkar was dropped again off his bowling. Younis was the culprit on this occasion as he failed to collect a forceful Tendulkar drive. In his next over, Tendulkar rubbed salt on Afridi’s wounds by caressing him for two lovely fours bringing up his 50 in the process which took 67 balls and included 7 hits to the boundary. The 100th international ton was surely on especially considering the generosity of Pakistan’s fielders. India were running away with the game at the half-way stage with 141 on the board and Tendulkar well set. Pakistan needed something special to come back into it. The moment of magic was provided by Wahab Riaz. First he had Virat Kohli caught at backward point and then shattered Yuvraj Singh’s stumps with a reverse swinging low full toss. Two in two and Pakistan were suddenly ahead for the first time in the match. Amid shell-shocked Indian supporters, Dhoni survived the hat-trick ball. Although Dhoni and Tendulkar were kept in check, absence of a slip continued to cost Pakistan dearly. Quite relentlessly Pakistan continued to drop Tendulkar and hence despite good bowling, the run rate hovered around five and a half. Kamran joined in the act when he gave Tendulkar another let-off by spoiling a tough edge. This was the third time Afridi could have had his man. The drama reached its comical heights when Umar Akmal gave Sachin his 4th life when he pulled Hafeez uppishly to midwicket. Despite atrocious fielding display by Pakistan, the match hung in balance until Tendulkar was finally dismissed 15 short of hundred. Afridi had to do it himself as he took a low catch off the bowling of Ajmal. Tendulkar faced 115 balls and hit 11 fours. It was a lucky innings but it helped India post a decent total in the end. At 187 for 5 after 37 overs, Pakistan had their noses in front with last Indian batting pair on the crease. Wahab came back to nip out a struggling Dhoni as India searched for some quick runs. Raina and Harbhajan took the batting powerplay after 44 overs. Gul came back but again proved disappointingly expensive. Ajmal deceived Harbhajan with a lovely doosra Wahab removed Zaheer to complete his first 5 wicket haul in ODIs. India scored 43 vital runs in the last powerplay thanks to Suresh Raina who remained not out on 36 off 39 balls. Pakistan restricted India to 260 for 9 on a wicket which had slowed down ad helped spinners. It was a par score but Pakistan were more positive than India at the innings break. Apart from Wahab’s 5 for 46, Ajmal and Hafeez were among the wickets. Gul who was Pakistan’s spearhead all tournament, gave away 69 runs in his 8 overs. Pakistan started off confidently as Hafeez and Kamran put on 44 runs in 9 overs without much fuss. There was no swing for the Indian seamers but Pakistan needed to take advantage of the new ball for a longer period as it was coming on to the bat nicely. After Kamran fell to Zaheer, Hafeez and Asad Shafiq carried Pakistan to 7o when a moment of indiscretion from Hafeez jolted Pakistan badly. For no apparent reason, Hafeez tried to play a scoop shot to Munaf Patel with both fine leg and third man on the boundary line. His attempt backfired miserably as the leading edged lobbed to Dhoni. He made 43 off 59 balls with 7 fours. This proved to be the turning point of the match as the in coming batsmen found it difficult to rotate the strike. Asad was bowled by Yuvraj for 30 when he tried to cut a delivery which was too close. Yuvraj was again celebrating wildly when he removed Younis. It was a miserable innings by Younis who consumed 32 deliveries for his 13 runs. At 106 for 4 in the 26th over, the match was heading to a cliff-hanger. Umar Akmal played a few courageous strokes to lift Pakistan as the asking rate mounted steeply. When Umar was cleaned up by Harbhajan through an arm ball, tensions mounted in the Pakistan camp. He played well for his 29 runs 924 balls, 1 four, 2 sixes) but Pakistan needed substantial contributions not cameos. Abdul Razzaq was promoted in order to increase the run rate but Pakistan missed the trick by not taking batting powerplay at the right time. Misbah was going at snail’s pace wasting too many deliveries. The asking rate approached 8 when Abdul Razzaq was bowled by Patel with a lovely leg cutter. Shahid Afridi tried to blast away but fell to Harbhajan after contributing just 19 runs as Pakistan still did not take the batting powerplay. From 184 for 7 in the 42nd over, a miracle was needed to save Pakistan from elimination. Nehra came back to bowl a stunning over which culminated in the dismissal of Wahab Riaz. Pakistan needed 61 from the last 5 overs, the batting power play, but they had only 2 wickets left. The blunder to delay the powerplay cost Pakistan the match as Pakistan fell short by 29 runs with a ball to spare. Misbah flashed in the end with a few fours and a six but still ended up needing 30 runs from the last over. He was the last man out caught by Kohli at log on off Zaheer for a 76-ball 56 (5 fours, 1 six). It was a useless innings in the end. All five Indian bowlers took 2 wickets each. As soon as Kohli took the last catch, wild celebrations erupted in the stadium and across India while shell-shocked Pakistan supporters watched in disbelief. India continued their unbeaten run against Pakistan in the World Cups and made it five in five. Tendulkar who had played in all those matches was named man of the match. There was something more than cricket in this match as Pakistani premier watched the match alongside his Indian counterpart marking the beginning of new era in the relationship between two countries. India has made to the final third time aver all where they will meet Sri Lanka in what looks to be another thrilling encounter at Mumbai. Pakistan will head home disappointed as they missed a golden opportunity but they should hold their heads high for what they gave on the cricket field after suffering from all that trauma off the field. Match Result: India 260 for 9 (Tendulkar 85, Sehwag 36; Wahab 5/46) beat Pakistan 231 all out in 49.5 overs (Misbah 56, Hafeez 43; Nehra 2/30, Harbhajan 2/43) by 29 runs to qualify for the final. Man of the Match: Sachin Tendulkar

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