India defeat Pakistan to make final

Asad Shafiq was bowled by Yuvraj Singh

By Suneer Chowdhary

 

Mohali: Mar 30, 2011

 

The Mohali semi-final was not your most authentic definition of going down to the wire, nor was it a game with high-quality cricket from either team. However, when it came to the crunch situations, the Indian bowlers held their nerves much better than their Pakistani counterparts to guide the side to a convincing 29-run win.

 

The semi-final was a tale of six dropped catches from Pakistan some curious tactics from both sides like the exclusion of R Ashwin at the start of the game, the batting of Misbah ul Haq and Younis Khan, a Batting Powerplay that Pakistan pushed till the very end despite the mounting asking rate.

 

Pakistan started their chase of 261 off in a manner that they needed to given the hardness of the ball. Zaheer Khan was smacked for a couple of fours in his first over and went for another eight in his second over as the Pakistanis raced off to 28 without loss in five overs.

 

Munaf Patel was immediately brought into the attack but 11 came off his first two overs as well as Pakistan looked good with 43 on the board at the end of the eighth over.

 

The problems for the Pakistanis started when Zaheer Khan was called back for his second spell and got rid of Kamran Akmal. Having done his job, Dhoni replaced him with a spin-pace combination on a track that had begun to get slower with every passing over.

 

Patel’s first four overs cost him 24 runs but the fall of the wicket meant that Asad Shafiq took his time to get set on the crease. Then, to get his confidence going, the equally confident Hafeez imploded into playing a stroke that would have given the Misbah ul Haq stroke of the final of 2007 World T20 to get out, a run for its money. He tried to scoop it and could only manage an edge and was caught by Dhoni.

 

Tightening the screws further was the batting of Younis Khan who failed to get the ball off the square. He failed to hit any boundary even as the pair of Harbhajan Singh and Yuvraj Singh began their throttle-act.

 

Yuvraj had Shafiq bowled for 30 and then, in the next over ended Younis’ misery at the crease for 13 (32 balls) to push Pakistan back to 106 for 4 in 26 overs.

 

At this stage Pakistan seemed like they were going down in a hurry given the lack of intent that any of the batsmen had shown after the Powerplay overs ended. This attitude changed with the striding out of Umar Akmal to the crease. Akmal looked to have come out with a will to target Yuvraj and he did that with aplomb.

 

Thanks mainly to Akmal – and Misbah ul Haq – 26 runs came off Yuvraj’s three overs that he was there at the crease but Dhoni was wise to switch him with Harbhajan Singh. And much to the Pakistani dismay, it took all of one delivery for Harbhajan to send Akmal on his way back to where he had come from.

 

Abdul Razzaq soon came and went but Pakistan’s main problem by now was that Misbah had used up too many deliveries without getting the kind of traction that his team would have needed from him.

 

When Razzaq left, Misbah had 11 runs off 34 deliveries and by the time he had hit his first boundary, he had made only 17 off 42. That, in the end proved to be a crucial phase of the innings where someone like Umar or even his brother Kamran could have just been the difference. And not that the boundary that Misbah hit made him change his game-plan till the very end either!

 

Shahid Afridi was Pakistan’s last hope to get the asking rate – which by then had touched nine – down but after facing 16 balls for 19, he gave up his pretensions of being a capable batsman, tried to slay Harbhajan to the fence but only ended up affording Sehwag a sitter.

 

Pakistan’s 184 for 7 and with only eight overs remaining on a wearing track with a batsman seemingly battling to save the last day of a Test match were never the right ingredients for a semi-final win and India marched into their third final of the ICC World Cup.

 

Virender Sehwag’s innings at the top of the innings was probably the difference between the two sides for most part of the game. The track did not behave as easy as it was deemed to when Sehwag batted and took Umar Gul apart. Sehwag smashed five boundaries in Gul’s second over and India were 48 before the fifth over was in progress.

 

Sehwag departed soon after – giving Riaz the first of his five wickets – and Tendulkar struggled through most part of his near-hundred. In what was Tendulkar’s most scratchy innings in recent times, he was dropped four times, apart from being lucky to survive an lbw and a stumping before he got to his 85. By the time Afridi had pouched one from him, the Indians were 187 for five in 37 overs, having lost four wickets for 81 runs in more than 18 overs and the perceived total of 300 looked like a distant dream from another match.

 

None of the Indian batsmen apart from the aforementioned pair and Suresh Raina (36*) towards the end, got to even 30 and India struggled to 260 for nine in their 50 overs. That the track had become a tad difficult to bat on to couple with the fact that the Pakistani spinners and Riaz bowled rather well showed in the last 10 overs where they scored only 60 runs. And of course, by the way that the Pakistanis batted after the ball had lost its shine.

 

Brief Scores: India 260 for 9 in 50 overs (Sachin Tendulkar 85, Virender Sehwag 38, Suresh Raina 36*; Wahab Riaz 5 for 46, Saeed Ajmal 2 for 44) bt Pakistan 231 all out in 49.5 overs (Misbah-ul-Haq 56, Mohammad Hafeez 43, Asad Shafiq 30; Ashish Nehra 2 for 33, Munaf Patel 2 for 40, Harbhajan Singh 2 for 43, Yuvraj Singh 2 for 57, Zaheer Khan 2 for 58) by 29 runs.

 

Man of the Match: Sachin Tendulkar


(Suneer is a Mumbai-based cricket writer and can be contacted at suneerchowdhary@gmail.com and Tweets here @suneerchowdhary)

 

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