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Blow after blow, the first & fast fifteen

Shoaib Akhtar — who told Ian Chappell before the match “I feel like a superman” against India, or some such thing — reaches 90-plus mph with the third ball of his first over. It turns out to be a 10-ball over (starting with a wide), the last of which is a crashing but uppish drive by Virender Sehwag. He is dropped at short cover.

Shoaib’s second over, first ball: Sachin flicks and a low catch is taken at backward square leg. Sachin starts walking, Indian hearts leap out of the mouths, but he is called back by the umpire. It’s a no ball. Shoaib, about to leap in joy, turns around to look at the umpire and his rising arm drops to his head.

The last ball of the over is a bouncer, Sachin hooks. It takes the top edge and flies up and up; below, the fine-leg fielder steps back and back. The ball drops over the rope, just out of his reach. Whew!

Mohammad Sami, who took the new ball with Shoaib, hits 90 mph too in his second over. So does Sehwag as he explodes after going without a run in the first 10 balls to hit two fours in the running. Three Sardars break out into a jig on the stands. Sehwag bows, takes a third boundary off the over.

Shoaib — all flying hair and the ball flying all around — settles down in his third over. After a relative quiet, Sachin creams him for four with a classy straight drive.

Sami isn’t so lucky. Sehwag slaps him over point and follows up the wild extravagance with a sweetly-timed flicked four. Fifty up in 5.3 overs.

Soon ends change, and there’s a buzz in Sehwag’s left ear as Shoaib hisses one past his ducking head. Whoosh!

In over nine, Tendulkar drives, smooth as silk through the fingers. Next ball, he tries to glide and is caught at point. Luck turns for Pakistan, only briefly.

The ladies in the galleries start thumping plastic drinking water bottles. A Pakistani flag begins the familiar go-around, swelling in the wind.

But the wind drops off Pakistan’s sail the next over. Change bowler Rana Naved-ul-Hasan is greeted with two consecutive fours. Rana bowls five no-balls in the over, Sehwag rubs it in by swatting one over his head and topping it up with a straight drive. 100 in 10.2 overs. Sehwag 50 in 43 balls.

Now the Indian flag is travelling, in keeping with the spirit of camaraderie draped over the series.

At the other end, Ganguly has been watching. The partnership is 41 runs, he hasn’t faced a ball. His first scoring shot is a pulled six.

Abdul Razzaq is the second change bowler. Sehwag takes three boundaries off his first over, crashing one through mid-off, glancing the second to fine leg and guiding the last to mid-wicket.

Over 15, Rana’s first ball is smashed for a six. The next is a yorker which Sehwag makes room to play on the off and is bowled. He swings the bat one-handed towards the ground in disgust.

Virender Sehwag bowled by Rana, 79 of 57 balls. India: 142 for 2.

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