Easy victory for Pakistan

TIME TO SMILE: Yuvraj Singh joins in the celebrations with L. Balaji who came up with the best bowling performance for the Indians.  

AMSTELVEEN, AUG. 21 . It was India's slackness in the climactic stages of the Pakistan innings, which marked the decisive point in the inaugural match of the Videocon tri-series at the picturesque VRA ground here on Saturday. In a contest reduced to 33 overs a side, the Indian bowlers had Pakistan on the back-foot before Abdul Razzaq and Moin Khan gathered 56 in only 41 deliveries during a hectic, unbroken and eventually match-winning seventh wicket partnership.

Pakistan notched up 192 for six — the total was revised to 193 under the Duckworth Lewis system following a rain interruption in the innings — and the Indians stumbled, being dismissed for 127, conceding a bonus point in the process.

On a brownish pitch that increasingly assisted spin as the match wore on, the Indian batsmen struggled to force the pace, and were unable string together partnerships even as the leg-spin, off-spin duo of Shahid Afridi and Shoaib Malik struck at regular intervals; not being able to find the boundaries and being choked for runs, the Indians resorted to desperate methods much to the glee of the Pakistanis.

Man of the Match Malik, who had earlier top-scored with a pleasing 68, grabbed three wickets, reiterating his rich vein of form against the Indians. The young man is growing in confidence.

Virender Sehwag could have been a huge factor in a truncated game, but he succumbed to a delivery from Shabbir Ahmed that seamed and bounced, Ganguly was getting into his stride when he swung Razzaq into Youhana's hands at deep square-leg, Rahul Dravid was run-out at the striker's end with a surprisingly sharp Inzamam-ul-Haq scoring a direct hit from mid-on.

V.V.S. Laxman, who was involved in an engaging duel with Shoaib Akhtar, somehow contrived to drag a Malik delivery spinning past his leg-stump on to the timber, and Yuvraj Singh missed a sweep at Afridi and saw the umpire's finger go up. The Indians then slid rapidly towards defeat.

Earlier, Abdul Razzaq dismissed the last delivery of the innings from Irfan Pathan straight down the ground for a six, and the stroke reflected the Pakistani surge in the end overs.

The crowd wore a colourful look with the flag-waving Indian and Pakistani supporters sharing a rare yet joyful get-together in the Netherlands. The brownish hue on the pitch came as a contrast though.

For Afridi, cricket is a form of Russian Roulette; the Pakistani dasher clubbed Irfan Pathan over long-on for a six, but soon had a swing at a zestful Ajit Agarkar, miscued, and Mohammed Kaif latched on to the catch at cover point.

Pathan had an unusual off-day, Agarkar impressed in his first spell, but it was Balaji who was the pick among the pacemen, getting into a nice rhythm, operating in the corridor, and snaring Yasir Hameed, Inzamam-ul-Haq and Younis Khan, consumed by a mean leg-cutter, outside the off-stump.

Expectedly, there was a measure of seam movement for the pacemen, but nothing sizable in terms of bounce and pace. Shoaib Malik, standing tall while driving through the off-side, looking solid off either foot, and clearly appearing to be the danger man for India, reached his half century

off only 51 balls. At the other end, Yousuf Youhana struck a thundering six over long-off when Pathan was reintroduced, before dropping his bat, and being undone by a direct throw from Sehwag at long-on. The two had put on 64 for the fourth wicket in 9.5 overs.

Ganguly chipped in with his seamers. When spin was introduced, Jeremy Lloyd became the first third umpire to signal a no-ball in an ODI, after Anil Kumble overstepped.

Not long after, Razzaq and Moin cut loose.

Y. Hameed c Dravid
b Balaji9
S. Afridi c Kaif
b Agarkar19
(14b, 2x4, 1x6)
S. Malik c Kaif b Kumble 68
(67b, 7x4)
Inzamam ul Haq1
c Dravid b Balaji
Y. Youhana (run out)28
(30b, 1x4, 1x6)
A. Razzaq (not out)35
(27b, 1x4, 2x6)
Y. Khan c Dravid 0
b Balaji
Moin Khan (not out)27
(20b, 3x4)
Extras (lb-2, w-1, nb-2)5
— —
Total (for 6 wkts.
in 33 overs)192
— —

Fall of wickets: 1-22 (Afridi), 2-52 (Hameed), 3-58 (Inzamam), 4-122 (Youhana), 5-136 (Malik), 6-136 (Younis).

India bowling: Pathan 7-0-58-0; Agarkar 7-0-40-1 (nb-1), Balaji 7-1-27-3

(w-1); Ganguly 6-0-33-0; Kumble 6-0-32-1 (nb-1).

V. Sehwag c Malik
b Shabbir17
(15b, 2x4)
S. Ganguly c Youhana
b Razzaq25
(29b, 3x4)
V.V.S. Laxman b Malik37
(51b, 2x4)
R. Dravid (run out)0
Yuvraj lbw b Afridi13
M. Kaif b Afridi10
R. Gavaskar c Razzaq15
b Malik
(18b, 1x4)
A. Agarkar c Hameed1
b Malik
I. Pathan lbw b Afridi1
L. Balaji c Sami b Afridi2
A. Kumble (not out)1
Extras (lb-1, w-3, nb-1)5
— —
Total (in 27 overs). 127
— —

Fall of wickets: 1-30 (Sehwag), 2-69 (Ganguly), 3-70 (Dravid), 4-96 (Laxman), 5-98 (Yuvraj), 6-116 (Kaif), 7-123 (Agarkar), 8-123 (Gavaskar), 9-124 (Pathan).

Pakistan bowling: Sami 5-0-29-0; Shabbir 5-0-22-1 (w-1), Akhtar 3-0-23-0 (nb-1, w-1); Razzaq 4-1-14-1; Afridi 6-0-20-4 (w-1), Malik 4-0-18-3.