Pakistan’s winning streak came to a halt as for the first time in 13 games they came across a competent unit. Their opposition was a ruthless Indian team which consists of battle-hardened players, who have all been playing top notch cricket in the IPL. The result of the 2nd ODI of the Kitply Cup was a huge 140-run win for the Men in the Blue. Pakistan were outplayed in all the three departments of the game and had exposed the numerous drawbacks in their game in the process.
Under cloudy conditions, Mahendra Singh Dhoni won the toss and elected to bat first. The conditions were certainly helpful for both swing and seam and India could have so easily lost both its openers early. There was a mix of bad luck and some unprofessional fielding and bowling display that let Pakistan down in a big way. That was enough for both Sehwag and Gambhir to cash on. Both the Delhi players teased the fielders with plenty of short singles. Even Pakistan’s best fielder – Younis Khan dropped a couple of slip catches offered by Gambhir (when on 4 and 29) and the fielding bug caught with all the players. Without taking any huge risks, India got off to a massive opening start while keeping the run rate at around 7.50!
Pakistan came close to take their first wicket when Sehwag on 43 had got an edge which appeared to have been taken behind by Kamran Akmal but television replays confirmed that it wasn’t a clean catch. Sehwag got a reprieve and the domination continued along with the equally aggressive Gambhir. Their left and right hand combination along with their intimidating strokeplay forced the bowlers to spray the ball on both sides of the wicket. In the 22nd over, Wahab Riaz, provided the break as Gambhir steered him straight into the keeper’s gloves. The southpaw contributed a run-a-ball 62 with 6 fours in an opening stand of 155! In his next over, Riaz forced Sehwag to edge his awkwardly rising delivery to the keeper. Sehwag, who had come into the match with high fever was disappointed not to complete an easy century. He made 89 from 76 balls with 13 fours and a six.
India’s momentum was maintained by the no.3 Yuvraj Singh although he lost debutant Yusuf Pathan and Rohit Sharma at the other end. First Yusuf Pathan (3 from 12 balls) threw his wicket away with an unnecessary big shot off Afridi and then Rohit Sharma (9 from 17 balls) got foxed by the same bowler. The Captain MS Dhoni along with Yuvraj then measured the situation properly to ensure that India did not lose their way. At the start of the slog overs, both the wickets of Dhoni (24 from 23 with 5 fours) and Yuvraj Singh (55 from 54 with 3 fours and 3 sixes) were captured. India were six down when rain halted play but they still had plenty of runs on the board on what was a slow wicket. After a brief intervention in play, Suresh Raina (26 from 22 with 2 sixes) and Irfan Pathan (18 from 18) played an important role in seeing that India got what they wanted to which was a total of 330/8. Pakistan had failed to grab a great opportunity to bowl India under 300 when Umar Gul had got the wicket of Yuvraj in the 43rd over.
India’s total of 330 was also because of the 38 extras conceded which included as many as 20 wides, 9 noballs and 5 byes from the keeper. Young left arm pacer Wahab Riaz had an embarrassing day with figures of 9.2-0-86-2 and he was also banned from bowling in the innings after bowling two beamers. In the final over, India could get just the 3 runs as Younis Khan bowling his first over got everything in the blockhole unlike the regular bowlers!
Pakistan were chasing a difficult target and they needed a big hundred from one of the top order batsmen. That didn’t happen at all and they were out of the contest in the 5th over itself as Praveen Kumar sent back the three major batsmen in Salman Butt, Younis Khan and Mohammad Yousuf back to the pavilion. First Salman Butt (9 from 8 balls) got caught brilliantly by Rohit Sharma who dived to his left at short cover-point and in the next ball itself, Younis Khan (0 from 1) edged an outswinger. Praveen Kumar missed his hat-trick but made sure that Mohammad Yousuf (11 from 11) didn’t come to the rescue of Pakistan. There was no let off for Pak as both Praveen Kumar and Ishant Sharma exploited the conditions very well. A few shots were played every now by Kamran Akmal (38 from 35 balls with 4 fours and 2 sixes) and Misbah-ul-Haq (24 from 28 balls with 5 fours) but the Indians were always under control.
Pakistan lost half of their side in the 17th over with 98 on the board. It was just matter of time before the innings got folded. For India, Praveen Kumar had taken four of the five wickets to fall by then. Pak got bowled out in the 36th over for 190 with Piyush Chawla wrapping up things with 4 wickets for 40 in 8.4 overs. Shoaib Malik helped himself to a score of 53 (from 67 balls with 3 fours and a six) which could reduce the margin of defeat. On the other hand, Praveen Kumar missed out on a maiden 5-wicket haul, he finished with 9-1-53-4 while Ishant Sharma was world class although he could get just the one wicket of Misbah-ul-Haq. The Man of the Match award was given to Virender Sehwag for setting up the game for his team.