The Telegraph
Wednesday , December 26 , 2012
Since 1st March, 1999
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Shoaib Malik clinches a humdinger

Bangalore: The odds swayed like a pendulum and the tension spread like wildfire… What better could you expect from an India-Pakistan encounter?

The Indian fans would definitely say an Indian victory, as the hosts lost the first T20 International of the two-match series, on Tuesday. But if you are a true admirer of the game, you would be satisfied with the quality dished out at the Chinnaswamy.

That the tension was palpable was evident when Ishant Sharma and Kamran Akmal got involved in a heated exchange when the batsman failed to negotiate an in-swinger.

In the end, Pakistan prevailed, reaching the target of 134 with two balls to spare. In the process, Pakistan also registered their first win against India in this format.

India got the playing XI wrong. Instead of playing a specialist spinner, they relied on two part-timers, Yuvraj Singh and Ravindra Jadeja.

In the two T20s against England, Yuvraj did the star turn in the bowling department after the regulars failed to deliver. On Tuesday, the script was different.

After debutant Bhuvneshwar’s Kumar spirited bowling performance reduced the visitors to 12 for three, it was crucial for the other bowlers to contribute. They didn’t.

Hafeez (61, 44b, 6x4, 2x6) and Shoaib Malik (57 not out, 50b, 3x4, 3x6) grabbed the opportunity to steer Pakistan home.

With the spinners being thumped, Dhoni resorted to his pacers. They almost did the job for him.

First, Ishant conceded only two in the 18th over before dismissing Hafeez. He also had Shoaib caught off a no-ball.

Then, with 14 needed off the last two overs, Dinda put up a disciplined performance and gave only four runs, also claiming the wicket of Kamran Akmal in the process.

With things looking down for Pakistan, Shoaib’s experience came in handy. He hit a straight six off Jadeja, off the fourth ball of the last over, to help his side win the match.

Earlier, Pakistan had made a solid comeback with the ball as well after the Indian openers had given the hosts a fantastic start.

The visitors rode on the bowling performances of Saeed Ajmal (2/25) and Umar Gul (3/21). Mohammed Irfan, a giant of a bowler, and Sohail Tanvir were impressive as well.

Gautam Gambhir and Ajinkya Rahane, were looking comfortable despite the Irfans bowling a tight line. The opening wicket partnership of 77 runs, off 65 balls, was not only great for the team, it also thrilled the full house at the Chinnaswamy.

But India lost their next seven wickets in the space of 34 balls.

Meanwhile, a 47-year-old fan, Kamal Jain, died following a heart attack while watching the match, a senior police official said.

“Though he was rushed to a nearby hospital, he died after admission,” Deputy Commissioner of Police, Ravi Kante Gowda, said.