India loses its way after an entertaining start; Bhuvneshwar bowls a lively spell on debut

As a heaving mass entered the Chinnaswamy Stadium on a Christmas evening, a delirious fan said: “Say it with love, say it with pride, Hindustan, Hindustan.”

The stage was emphatically set for an India-Pakistan contest, but once the first Twenty20 of a two-match series commenced here on Tuesday, cricket lovers only witnessed diffidence from the home team though debutant Bhuvneshwar Kumar proved to be an exception even as Pakistan won by five wickets.

Chasing India’s 133 for nine, the visitor scored 134 for five in 19.4 overs with Shoaib Malik (57 n.o.) making a mockery of the required 10 from the last over with a straight six off Ravindra Jadeja.

Much ahead of the climax, the strange medley of nerves and quick wickets that often plague the pursuit of meagre targets in cricketing lore, was again on view as Pakistan stumbled to 12 for three in three overs.

Finding his rhythm

Bhuvneshwar, fresh from his exploits in the current Ranji season where he has taken 27 wickets, swung the ball appreciably to castle Nasir Jamshed in the first over.

The 22-year-old Uttar Pradesh seamer then struck a double-whammy in his second over, forcing Ahmed Shehzad to nibble at one that moved away and uprooting Umar Akmal’s stumps with a delivery that darted in. Bhuvneshwar’s dream spell read 4-0-9-3.

Pakistan found its saviours in skipper Mohammad Hafeez (61) and Malik.

The duo’s 106-run fourth-wicket partnership proved to be the game-changer.

R. Ashwin was missing in the Indian ranks and the spin option provided by left-armers Yuvraj Singh and Jadeja, or the gentle seamers that Virat Kohli bowled were gleefully lapped up by Hafeez and Malik.

After initially milking the bowling for singles, the two distributed their sixes between Yuvraj and Jadeja and the game had inexorably turned Pakistan’s way though there was no shortage of drama.

Hafeez fell to the first ball of the 18th over bowled by Ishant. Malik was then caught off a no-ball (second bouncer).

Ishant then got embroiled in a needless slanging match with Kamran Akmal, who later succumbed to Ashoke Dinda — Ishant taking the catch at third man! — while the match veered towards its tense final over.

Earlier, opting to field, Hafeez unleashed the left-arm pace combine of Mohammad Irfan and Sohail Tanvir.

The Pakistan skipper’s gambit elicited contrasting initial reactions from a diffident Gautam Gambhir and a largely fluent Ajinkya Rahane.

Gambhir struggled for timing, squirting one towards point and spooning another off a leading edge.

Rahane, too, was cramped by the steep bounce that Irfan extracted but he eased his nerves with a four off the tall debutant, who was constantly clocking 145 kmph.

The opener then picked another boundary off Tanvir and both those strikes on the off-side finally helped the crowd exhale with relief.

Rahane (42) continued unhindered as he pounded Irfan past sweeper-cover while Gambhir got into a tangle in his bid to hook the same bowler. Gambhir (43) found belated joy when he hoisted the 23rd delivery he faced for a six off Umar Gul over mid-wicket.

He then clouted Shahid Afridi through the same region while Rahane relished the fuller length that Saeed Ajmal initially peddled.

The procession begins

Quite inexplicably, against the run of play, Rahane scooped Afridi down long-off’s throat. It proved to be the Indian innings’ tipping point as from 77 for one in 10.5 overs, M.S. Dhoni’s men slumped without respite.

Sadly, India’s batting depth ranging from Kohli at three and Jadeja at eight, offered no insurance as Pakistan breached the host batsmen’s defence with impunity. The two run-outs in the Indian innings were also a pointer to the visiting team’s desire to excel in all departments of the game.

India scored 75 for no loss in the first 10 overs, but the final 10 produced just 58 for the fall of nine wickets. The match was lost in that phase.

Spectator dies

A spectator Kamal Jain, aged 47, passed away during the course of the match. Jain was in discomfort during the second half of the match while Pakistan inched closer to the Indian total.

He was rushed to the nearby Mallya Hospital where he was declared ‘brought dead’ by the doctors.

Scoreboard

India: G. Gambhir (run out) 43 (41b, 2x4, 1x6), A. Rahane c U. Akmal b Afridi 42 (31b, 5x4, 1x6), V. Kohli c K. Akmal b Irfan 9 (11b, 1x4), Yuvraj c U. Akmal b Gul 10 (9b, 1x6), M.S. Dhoni b Ajmal 1 (2b), S. Raina b Ajmal 10 (9b, 1x4), Rohit (run out) 2 (2b), R. Jadeja c K. Akmal b Gul 2 (4b), Bhuvneshwar (not out) 6 (6b), Ishant b Gul 0 (1b), A. Dinda (not out) 3 (4b); Extras (lb-2, w-3): 5; Total (for nine wkts., in 20 overs): 133.

Fall of wickets: 1-77 (Rahane), 2-90 (Gambhir), 3-103 (Kohli), 4-108 (Dhoni), 5-115 (Yuvraj), 6-122 (Raina), 7-123 (Rohit), 8-124 (Jadeja), 9-124 (Ishant).

Pakistan bowling: Irfan 4-0-25-1, Tanvir 4-0-22-0, Gul 3-0-21-3, Ajmal 4-0-25-2, Afridi 3-0-26-1, Hafeez 2-0-12-0.

Pakistan: N. Jamshed b Bhuvneshwar 2 (6b), A. Shehzad c Dhoni b Bhuvneshwar 5 (7b, 1x4), Mohd. Hafeez c Bhuvneshwar b Ishant 61 (44b, 6x4, 2x6), U. Akmal b Bhuvneshwar 0 (4b), S. Malik (not out) 57 (50b, 3x4, 3x6), K. Akmal c Ishant b Dinda 1 (6b), S. Afridi (not out) 3 (2b); Extras (lb-1, w-3, nb-1): 5; Total (for five wkts. in 19.4 overs): 134.

Fall of wickets: 1-2 (Jamshed), 2-11 (Shehzad), 3-12 (U. Akmal), 4-118 (Hafeez), 5-123 (K. Akmal).

India bowling: Bhuvneshwar 4-0-9-3, Dinda 4-0-26-1, Ishant 4-0-23-1, Kohli 2-0-21-0, Yuvraj 3-0-25-0, Jadeja 2.4-0-29-0.

Man-of-the-match: Mohd. Hafeez

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