| Younis Khan after reaching his hundred in Mohali on Thursday. The Pakistan vice-captain dedicated his century to former coach Bob Woolmer. Related reports, statistics, scorecard on Page 18
Mohali: It was an exciting clash that left a lasting impact. In the end, Pakistan produced a superb batting performance under pressure to beat India by four wickets and draw level 1-1 in the five-match series for the IndianOil Cup.
At the PCA Stadium on Thursday, facing an Indian total of 321 for nine, no one gave the visitors much of a chance. But vice-captain Younis Khan plotted India’s downfall with a fascinating century in front of a capacity crowd.
The result doesn’t reflect too well on the Indian bowlers who failed to defend a total that looked a winning one all through.
If Man of the Match Younis Khan laid the platform with his 117 off 110 balls — studded with nine fours and two sixes — it was Shahid Afridi who finished it off with a cameo.
Coming in at No.7, Afridi slammed 29 in just 14 balls to take Pakistan home with a ball to spare.
The revival, though, was started by Younis Khan and Misbah-ul Haq.
Both batted brilliantly to take the visitors to the doorstep of victory.
Down to 174 for four in 32.overs, Pakistan were losing their way but the duo added 102 runs for the fifth wicket in 12.2 overs and completely changed the complexion of the game.
The match once again turned India’s way when Zaheer Khan bowled Younis round his legs. Misbah (49) followed soon after while attempting a similar shot that caused his downfall in the ICC World Twenty20. Rudra Pratap Singh castled him.
RP’s joy was shortlived. In the penultimate over, Afridi hit him for a huge six over long-off to virtually bring the curtains. In the last over, Pakistan needed just six runs.
Faced with the Afridi onslaught, Irfan Pathan looked clueless. While Afridi scored the winning run, Sohail Tanveer proved his worth as he took the first five runs off Pathan.
During the Indian innings, the stage was set for a Sachin Tendulkar-Shoaib Akhtar clash after Mahendra Singh Dhoni won the toss and decided to bat.
Tendulkar raised his game even as the Rawalpindi Express cut down on his run up and pace at times to be more accurate.
The maestro was slow off the blocks. Shoaib too looked sedate. Yet their rivalry livened up the fans.
Both read the situation well and adapted to the challenge. If Tendulkar personified complete commitment, Shoaib took upon himself the task of guiding the young guns.
Tendulkar, unfortunate to be dismissed on 99 for the third time in his ODI career, settled down to play some nice strokes.
His glide proved fatal as Kamran Akmal came up with a fine catch off Umar Gul.
Tendulkar and Gautam Gambhir (57) gave the Indian innings the required fillip after Sourav Ganguly dragged the ball onto his stumps.
Though the capacity crowd was mightily disappointed to see the Master Blaster falling in the 90s for the fifth time in ODIs this year, his 91-ball innings was an example of maturity and his ability to apply mind over matter.
Had it not been for his knock and the 173-run partnership with Gambhir for the second wicket, India would have been nowhere near the score to put the visitors under pressure.
Pakistan, though, started off well. After opener Sourav Ganguly was dismissed early, Shoaib and Gul bowled with control and fire to keep a check on Tendulkar and Gambhir.
The maestro, who scored only four in the first one-dayer, had a quiet beginning.
Though he was unperturbed by Shoaib’s pace — who looked intimidating at times — it took the senior pro some time to settle in.
Once he decided to go after the bowling, none of the six Pakistan bowlers looked good enough.
The proceedings truly livened up in the 10th over when Tendulkar cracked three hits to the fence off Gul. The first two were like lightning — square of the wicket and fine leg.
Gul, of course, had his revenge when he denied Tendulkar his 42nd one-day century.
The delivery pitched outside the off stump and as Tendulkar tried to turn it towards the third man for a single, it took the edge and travelled to the right of Akmal.
The Pakistan wicketkeeper dived to take a neat catch.
Barring this, Tendulkar’s innings was spotless.
The 14 boundaries he hit had the stamp of class written all over. The six off Shahid Afridi was the result of an effortless swing that sailed high over the extra cover.
India’s innings lost momentum after the maestro returned.
Gambhir, who chose to play the second fiddle throughout his stay with Tendulkar, didn’t last long.
But his maiden ODI half-century against Pakistan went a long way in ensuring a challenging total.
Virender Sehwag, who replaced Murali Kartik, failed again. His first ODI innings for India after the World Cup produced only 25 runs.