Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Good bye Pakistan !! Hello Lanka !!


Mohali: It promised to be a thriller and the India versus Pakistan semi final match turned out to be a super Wednesday blockbuster as the hosts registered an emphatic  29 run win and set a date against Sri Lanka in the final match of the World Cup.

Though there were streaks of individual brilliance when India came out to bat, it was the bowlers who played with focussed intent to defend the 260 run total. Skipper MS Dhoni switched between pace and spin regularly and his bowlers did not let him or the fans present at the Punjab Cricket Association stadium here, down.

The openers gave Pakistan a good start with Kamran Akmal and Mohammad Hafeez stroking the ball to the fence on numerous occasions. It was the reliable war-horse in Zaheer Khan who brought about the first blow when his slower ball confused Akmal and his square drive only to find a waiting Yuvraj Singh at point.

New man in Asad Shafiq and Hafeez held the inning together for all of 26 runs for the second wicket but this time it was the other pacer in Munaf Patel who dug in. An edge from Hafeez and Dhoni gladly accepted the offering.

Pakistan perhaps would rue the fact that they built partnerships but could not capitalise on any of them as the likes of Shafiq, Younis Khan and Umar Akmal all fell prey to the Indian spinners once Dhoni introduced them to replace the faster bowlers.

Yuvraj Singh in particular, ensured that his first ball duck was erased when he cleaned the stumps behind Shafiq and returned to remove Younis. Though Harbhajan too contributed with crucial wickets, it was the duo of Munaf and Ashish Nehra who returned into action to send the Pakistan tail packing.

Earlier in the day, India managed to score 260 on a track that promised a 300-plus total. This after Tendulkar enjoyed a spell of mesmerising good fortune to score 85. He was supported well by Virender Sehwag (38), Gautam Gambhir (27) and Dhoni (25). The other batsmen though, were left clueless by Pakistan’s seamer Wahab Riaz who took 5 wickets for 46 in his full quota of overs.

Suresh Raina came to the crease after Riaz struck terror and managed to lash out in the final few overs to take his team to a modest total, although it was more than the average 1st innings total in a day and night match here at Mohali, by  11 runs.

In the end though, it proved to be enough to keep the Pakistan batsmen guessing as the Indians ensured a final against Sri Lanka on the 3rd which could perhaps be as thrilling as the one on Wednesday. Perhaps.

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