Pakistan: 302/9 after 50 overs; Shoaib Malik- 128 of 126 balls
Champions Trophy: Pakistan crush India by 54 runs
SuperSport Park (Centurion):Chasing a big ask of 303 for victory, Team India failed to live up to the pre match tag of favorites and were bundled out for 248 and lost to arch rivals Pakistan by 54 runs.
The 54 run defeat meant Pakistan take full two points and emerge as points table chart toppers in Group. Harbhajan Singh was the tenth Indian wicket to fall, clean bowled by Saeed Ajmal, the best Pakistan bowler on display.
For a moment India thought they were up to the task as Rahul Dravid The Wall, was back in reckoning after a year and half, as India managed to remain in hunt of chasing down big Pakistani total.
Dravid’s unfortunate run out saw India’s fate sealed as Pakistan bowlers did not gave away anything after that. Dravid scored a fighting knock of 76 runs before getting involved in a mid pitch confusion with Harbhajan Singh.
Earlier, Suresh Raina raised Indian hopes with a little cameo of 46 of 41 balls and ensured that India were well on course of the big chase, but his dismissal saw Pathan come to the crease, who managed to score just 5 before nicking a catch and put India in further trouble.
Earlier, India started with a bang before Gautam Gambhir fell to a direct hit from Pak skipper Younis Khan, one needed to wait for the replay in order to fix who the culprit was. And it turned to be none other than Rahul Dravid who needlessly called in Gambhir.
Had it not been Gambhir’s brilliant innings 57 of 46 balls, Team India were courting further troubles after early departure of little master Sachin Tendulkar. But from thereon stroke play from Gautam Gambhir saw India crossing 60 at the end of the 9th over.
Just when the chips were down, Shoaib Malik and Mohammad Yousuf combined together for a record breaking fourth wicket stand to take Pakistan to 302/9 and set India a challenging total.
Malik’s exceptional innings of 128 runs, which came of just 126 balls laced with 16 hits across the fence has now ensured that Indian batsmen have their task cut out, especially for the likes of Tendulkar and Dravid, who have the acumen and ammunition to get things going.
In what can be described as an off day for Indian bowlers, the two Pakistan batsmen milked India’s attack with careful but attacking shots. Malik in particular was toying with Indian bowlers after completing his century as Indian skipper struggled to get the breakthrough until the 46th over when Ashish Nehra cleaned up well set Mohammad Yousuf, who departed after scoring a run a ball at 87.
But by the time Nehra found the breakthrough the damage had been done with Pakistan at 271 with 24 balls remaining.
Yousuf and Malik were involved in over two hundred runs stand and ensured that Pakistan were well on course for a more than a challenging total against a team who have come with a huge track record against them in key ICC tournaments and end India’s winning streak.
Earlier, Pakistan were off to brisk start, courtesy openers Imran Nazir and Kamran Akmal, who tonked Indian pacers with ease and left no room for width. Nazir soon got carried away and played a silly shot straight to Harbhajan Singh, who completed the formalities with the ball landing right in his hands placed between neck and chest. Nehra was the lucky bowler.
The God of luck smiled again on Nehra as Kamran Akmal who was well set till then managed to drag on a delivery on to his stumps leaving Pakistan in bit of worry after a great start.
Nehra in particular was the best Indian bowler on display and was rewarded with four vital wickets.
Skipper Younis Khan became the third Pakistan wicket to fall before the twentieth over as he nicked a catch to Mahendra Singh Dhoni, giving RP Singh his first wicket of the match.
The Pakistani openers survived some anxious moments before taking the attack to arch-rivals India. Imran Nazir was especially more severe but finally fell to the trap set by Ashish Nehra.
It was Nehra’s turn again as the left arm pacer cleaned up the other opener Kamran Akmal after the later had scored 19 runs for 22 balls. Akmal’s departure saw Pakistan reduced to 53/2.
Towards the end Pakistan lost wickets in heap, but not before piling 302/9 and setting India a daunting chase, which proved just too much for India to chew.
MS Dhoni, R Dravid, G Gambhir, Harbhajan Singh, KD Karthik, V Kohli, P Kumar, A Mishra, AM Nayar, A Nehra, YK Pathan, SK Raina, I Sharma, RP Singh, SR Tendulkar
Younis Khan, Shahid Afridi, Fawad Alam, Iftikhar Anjum, Imran Nazir, Kamran Akmal†, Misbah-ul-Haq, Mohammad Aamer, Mohammad Asif, Mohammad Yousuf, Naved-ul-Hasan, Saeed Ajmal, Shoaib Malik, Umar Akmal, Umar Gul