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Pakistan take lead as runs finally dry up!

A word of advice - when India are playing Pakistan, you need bother investing in a nail-clipper. The chances are that you will have bitten your nails down thoroughly, thanks to the tense cricket that is likely to be served up by these teams.

If we thought that it would be difficult to match the nerve-wracking affairs at Karachi and Rawalpindi, Peshawar proved us wrong. Once again, this was a match with fortunes fluctuating like a stock exchange gone crazy. Pakistan seemed to be in charge when their opening bowlers decimated the Indian batting order but a great innings by Yuvraj and a cheeky one by Balaji brought India right back into the match. Then it was Pakistan's turn to be rocked as Pathan and Balaji reduced them to 65-4. Hameed and Inzamam put Pakistan in control but fell within 20 runs of each other, and India seemed all set to grab the lead. Abdur Razzaq and Moin Khan finally saw Pakistan home, amid close calls, a dropped catch and some inexplicable captaincy from Sourav Ganguly.

What separated this match from its predecessors was the pitch, which (finally!) gave the bowlers some assistance. The bowlers on both sides came into their own and the runs suddenly dried up in a series where 300 has been par for the course. Batsmen suddenly were facing deliveries that reared up at them or cut nastily off the pitch. And believe me, it made for a much better cricketing spectacle than the earlier encounters.

I hope the curator at Lahore takes some tips from the person who laid the track out at Peshawar. Lots of runs do not make a great match, good cricket does. And there was lots of it on display at Peshawar!

Incidentally, while there must have been lots of sympathy for Yasir Hameed when he missed out on his century by just two runs, the superstitious members of the Pakistan team might have been delighted to see him miss it. The reason? Well, in the last three ODIs between Pakistan and India, whenever a player has scored a century, his team has lost. Anwar got a hundred in the 2003 World Cup and finished on the losing side, as did Inzamam at Karachi and Tendulkar at Rawalpindi. 

Before moving on to the scorecard and highlights, guess what these gentlemen - Shoaib Akhtar, Shahid Afridi, Shoaib Malik and Shabbir Ahmed - have in common? Well, apart from the fact that they all play for Pakistan, there is also the little matter of each of them having bowling actions that seem anything but legal at times. Do you think the International Cricket Council has done enough to curb illegal actions? Or are some players (especially Pakistanis and Sri Lankans) getting away with the equivalent of cricketing murder?

Share your thoughts with us at Discussion Forum or write in to

The scoreboard:

Venue: Peshawar
Toss: Won by Pakistan, decided to bowl
Umpires: David Shepherd and Nadeem Ghauri
Match referee: Ranjan Madugalle
Result: Pakistan won by 4 wickets
Man of the Match: Yasir Hameed
Series score: Pakistan lead 2-1

The scoreboard:

India (244 for 9 wickets in 50 overs)

V Sehwag c Afridi b S Ahmed 13 (18)
(Attempted to play across, ball took the outside edge and flew to point)

S Tendulkar c Moin b S Ahmed 0(5)
(Was done in by a beautiful delivery that pitched on the off and moved away)

VVS Laxman b S Ahmed 3 (20)
(Beaten by very quick delivery that moved in after pitching)

R Dravid c M Khan b Malik 33 (86)
(Tried to sweep, ball went off the gloves to the keeper)

S Ganguly c M Khan b Razzaq 39(41)
(Tried to glide a wide ball to third man, edged to the keeper)

Y Singh c Youhana b Sami 65(76)
(Tried to clear the mid wicket fence, found the fielder)

M Kaif lbw b Razzaq 1(4)
(Caught on the crease by a delivery that cut in)

R Powar lbw b Malik 14 (18)
(Swept across the line, missed completely)

I Pathan b Akhtar 16(21)
(Was bowled through the gate by a quick yorker after a few slower deliveries)

L Balaji not out 21 (12)

Z Khan not out 6(3)

Extras (1 bye, 5 leg byes, 23 wides, 4 no-balls) 33

Fall of wickets: 1-8(Tendulkar, 1.3 overs), 2-30(Sehwag, 5.5 overs), 3-37 (Laxman, 7.5 overs), 4-105 (Ganguly, 23.2 overs), 5-139 (Dravid, 32.2 overs), 6- 140(Kaif, 33.1 overs), 7-167 (Powar, 38.4 overs), 8 - 198 (Pathan, 46.1 overs), 9-237 (Y Singh, 49.2 overs)

Batting landmarks:
50 in 12.1 overs; 100 in 21.5 overs; 150 in 35.4 overs; 200 in 46. 2 overs; 250 in overs; 300 in overs.

Bowling: (read figures as 'overs-maidens-runs-wickets')
S Akhtar 10-0-50-1; S Ahmed 10-0-33-3;M Sami 10-0-71-1; A Razzaq 10-1-44-2; S Malik 10-0-40-2.

Pakistan (247 for 6 wickets in 47.2 overs)

Y Hameed c Y Singh b Pathan 98 (116)
(Tried to glide the ball through point, found the fielder)

S Afridi b Pathan 6(5)
(Played all over a straight delivery)

Y Youhana c Laxman b Pathan 2 (11)
(Slashed at a ball outside the off stump, edged it to slip)

Y Khan run out 18 (16)
(Was out of his ground when the bowler Balaji seemed to deflect a drive from Hameed on to the stumps)

S Malik c Sehwag b Z Khan 2(10)
(Edged a ball angled across him into the slips)

Inzamam-ul-Haq lbw b Tendulkar 28 (40)
(Missed a googly but got a bad decision as he was struck outside the line)

A Razzaq not out 53 (52)

M Khan not out 22(34)

Did not bat: M Sami, S Akhtar, S Ahmed

Extras (11 leg byes, 7 wides) 18

Fall of wickets: 1-14(Afridi, 2.1 overs), 2-29(Youhana, 6.4 overs), 3-55(Y Khan, 11.5 overs), 4-65 (S Malik, 14.3overs), 5- 156(Inzamam, 31.4 overs), 6-173(Hameed, 34.5 overs)

Batting landmarks:
50 in 10.5 overs; 100 in 20.1 overs; 150 in 30.3 overs; 200 in 41.3 overs

Bowling:(read figures as 'overs-maidens-runs-wickets')
I Pathan 10-0-58-3; L Balaji 9.2-0-41-0; Z Khan 9-0-56-1; S Ganguly 6-0-24-0; R Powar 4-0-17-0; S Tendulkar 8-1-31-1; Y Singh 1-0-9-0

Highlights: Indian innings

* Inzamam won the toss for the third time in a row (what kind of coin are they using?) and decided to give everyone's eyebrows some exercise by electing to bowl, as he did at Karachi. Perhaps he was influenced by the pitch and the conditions, which seemed to indicate that the ball would do something early on. However, most people were still surprised by his decision. They would have been out for his head if Pakistan had lost!
* Pakistan made no changes to its team from the previous match. India brought in Irfan Pathan for the injured Ashish Nehra.
* Pakistan's slip cordon seemed distinctly out of sorts. Inzamam-ul-Haq put down a sharp chance in the slips offered by Sehwag off Shoaib Akhtar in the opening over of the match. Five overs later, Yasir Hameed dropped Laxman off Shabbir Ahmed. Barely a few deliveries later, Hameed was in the thick of it again. This time Rahul Dravid was the beneficiary and Akhtar the bowler as he failed to hold on to a very difficult chance!
* Shabbir Ahmed bowled one of the strangest overs in ODI history. Coming on to bowl his first over and the second of the innings, he served up five wides, another delivery that was so wide that it beat a diving Moin Khan behind the wicket and went for four, two no balls and an absolute gem of a delivery to remove Sachin Tendulkar. Of course, his bowling changed beyond recognition in the overs that followed.
* Sourav Ganguly's wicket was Abdur Razzaq's first wicket in five ODIs. What a way to break a wicketless duck!
* After seeming to have tightened up their act at Rawalpindi, Pakistan's bowlers were once again guilty of straying in line and length and conceding way too many wides (23) and no balls(4). Of course, India were not complaining. Had it not been for the extra runs and deliveries, they would have struggled to score 200.
* Shabbir Ahmed's figures of 10-0-33-3 are his best in ODIs. It was also a bowler conceding less than four runs an over in a completed spell in this series!
* Laxmipathy Balaji could not have chosen a better time to come up with his highest ODI score. Coming in with India reeling at 198-8 in the 47th over, Balaji came up with a handy 21 off 12 deliveries that included boundaries off Akhtar and Sami as well as a huge six off Sami that went right into the press box. Now, that is the way to make news!
* Before this match, Pakistan had been the team scoring heavily towards the end of the innings. Well, India gave them a taste of their own medicine this time, savaging 55 runs off the last five overs of the match.

Highlights: Pakistan innings

* Irfan Pathan bowled a brilliant opening spell, dismissing Afridi and Youhana. Now, why on earth was he not played earlier in the series?
* Inzamam-ul-Haq had to bat lower down the order because he accidentally swallowed an insect while fielding. There is no accounting for tastes!
* Umpire Nadim Ghauri handed out perhaps the worst decision of the series when he ruled Pakistan captain Inzamam-ul-Haq leg before to Tendulkar off a delivery that pitched outside the off stump, hit the batsman outside the off stump and was nowhere close to hitting the wicket. A few overs later, Ghauri made another blooper when he did not signal a wide for a ball that bounced outside the off stump and landed in the hands of first slip! Clearly it was not his day.
* India's best bowler of the previous match was Yuvraj Singh (10-1-42-2). Well, he had to wait till the 38th over before he got a chance to bowl this time and was taken off after just one over.
* Ramesh Powar must be wondering what he must do to get an opportunity to bowl his full quota of overs. He was impressive at Rawalpindi but was taken off after only 6 overs. He bowled well today but was only given four overs!
* The 'friendship' flavour of the series was slightly diluted when the crowd threw a few objects on to the field during the Pakistan innings. Play was held up for almost ten minutes while the umpires and match officials sorted out the matter.
* Remember Herschelle Gibbs famously 'dropping the 1999 World Cup' when he put down Steven Waugh at a critical juncture of the tournament? Well, Tendulkar might have dropped the India-Pakistan series when he put down a caught and bowled chance offered by Abdur Razzaq in the 42nd over. Pakistan still needed more than 40 runs to win and there was not much batting left after Razzaq!

Turning point of the match:

For me, the match swung in Pakistan's favour when Sourav Ganguly went on the defensive for some strange reason with Pakistan reeling at 65-4. Instead of calling on his mainline bowlers to finish off the job, he opted to bowl himself. While he was more than reasonably economical, he was not able to exert the pressure that could have been put by the likes of Powar, Yuvraj or one of the seamers. Consequently, Inzmam-ul-Haq and Yasir Hameed were able to settle down and added 91 runs for the fifth wicket - a partnership that laid the foundation for Pakistan's victory. The Indian captain may also have erred in holding back Yuvraj for too long and trusting Tendulkar rather than Powar towards the end of the innings.

Our man of the match:

He may not have scored the most runs or taken the most wickets in the match but Pakistan all-rounder Abdur Razzzaq came up trumps with bat and ball when his team needed it. He broke the back of the Indian batting line up with the wickets of Ganguly and Kaif and when India seemed all set to snatch a victory, he guided his team home with an unbeaten half-century. You cannot ask for more than that!

Lighter moment of the match:

Shabbir Ahmed's opening over seemed to go on forever. The Pakistani pace bowler sent down a total of six wides and two no balls to make it a fourteen -delivery affair. So long did the over last that even the Pakistani fielders seemed to have lost count of deliveries. At least on two occasions, the fielders and wicketkeeper moved to change ends only to discover that the over had yet to end!

It is the most intense and bitter rivalry in cricket and one about which almost everyone has an opinion. Get your point of view online and join what promises to be a great debate at our discussion board: Discussion Forum

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