Pakistan win despite Tendulkar's ton
Pakistan 329 for 6 (Hameed 86, Afridi 80) beat India 317 all out (Tendulkar 141) by 12 runs
Sachin Tendulkar emulated Inzamam-ul-Haq's Karachi heroics with a dazzling 141, but it wasn't enough to inspire India to an improbable victory after they were set 330 to win by Pakistan at Rawalpindi. Shoaib Akhtar, playing his 100th one-day international in front of his home crowd, winkled out India's lower order as they fell 12 runs short at the finish.
As long as Tendulkar was at the crease, India were favourites to pull it off. He batted magnificently, passing 13,000 runs along the way, and adding 105 with Rahul Dravid to set the game up for India. The slow bowlers were cut, swept and paddle-swept deftly, while the pace bowlers were creamed through the covers, and lofted over midwicket with ease.
Ironically, it was that shot that proved his downfall, when he slog-swept Shoaib Malik down to Abdul Razzaq at deep midwicket (245 for 4). His 141 took just 135 deliveries, and gave the remaining batsmen the perfect platform to make a charge.
Dravid eased to 36 before some extra pace from Mohammad Sami bowled him (260 for 5). And Yuvraj Singh then reeled off 19 in quick time before striking a Shahid Afridi delivery straight to Shabbir Ahmed at deep midwicket (282 for 6).
With Shoaib back into the attack, Mohammad Kaif scooped one to point (284 for 7) and Zaheer Khan was trapped leg before first ball to leave Pakistan on the verge of victory. But Ramesh Power, the debutant, and L Balaji gave them a real fright, smashing 30 from just 15 balls to set up a thrilling climax. When Balaji was run out, and Ashish Nehra bowled by Sami, it was all over, with eight balls still to be bowled. The gallant Powar, unbeaten on 18, could only watch in frustration.
Virender Sehwag and Tendulkar had started the pursuit by treating Shoaib with some respect, while going after Shabbir, who had come into the team to replace Naved-ul-Hasan. Sehwag went after him first, tonking one over midwicket and then smacking him over cover for four more.
By then, Tendulkar had his eye in, as he proved when he cut Shoaib over point, before flicking him past the square-leg fielder. Shabbir then pitched one in the slot, and Tendulkar played a glorious cover-drive, following up with a clever glance off his pads for four more.
With India ahead of the asking rate, Shoaib struck with a beautiful delivery. It was full, and knocked back the off stump when Sehwag played around it (56 for 1).
Soon after, India were rocked again, when VVS Laxman, who made just 4, was trapped leg before by Sami, as he tried to shuffle across the crease (71 for 2). Ganguly then enjoyed a reprieve, when Shoaib put down a sitter at mid-off after he had given Shabbir the charge.
His luck didn't last though, and when he gave Afridi the charge after a patchy 15, he was stumped by yards (140 for 3). That got Tendulkar and Dravid together. Singles and twos were scampered, despite Tendulkar appearing to suffer from fatigue, and fours plundered when the bowlers erred in line or length.
Pakistan's own run feast was the result of a stunning opening partnership. With Afridi back in the side, and back to his wood-cutting best, the new-ball pairing of Balaji and Zaheer were given a pummelling. Afridi started with an inside-edged four off Balaji, but then calibrated his sights to smash some splendid strokes straight down the ground and through midwicket.
Yasir Hameed's approach was more orthodox, with a couple of gorgeous cover-drives giving the Indians plenty to chew on. Only Nehra, who came on as first change, kept the runs down, as Ganguly was compelled to call on his slow bowlers.
Sehwag, though, was targetted for special treatment, with Afridi slamming sixes over midwicket and long-off. Powar wasn't scared to flight the ball, and he got appreciable turn at times. As for Yuvraj, he made an impact with just his second delivery, inducing a reckless heave across the line from Afridi, whose rollicking 80 had taken just 58 balls (138 for 1).
Yousuf Youhana compiled an elegant 24 before Yuvraj struck again. Youhana played outside the line, and edged one back on to his stumps (191 for 2). But Inzamam came in next, and thumped Powar for a straight six, as Pakistan appeared on course for a huge total.
The next break came courtesy some calamitous running. Hameed, who made 86, played one to short third man, and by the time he responded to Inzamam's call, Nehra's throw to Yuvraj had beaten him (225 for 3).
That set the stage for Nehra. Included only after a late fitness test, the first ball of his new spell bowled Inzamam (28) off a thin edge, and the next trapped Moin Khan in front for 0. Malik jammed down on a superb yorker to ensure that there would be no hat-trick.
Nehra's intervention proved only a temporary respite as Younis Khan - who made 28 before tickling a catch behind off Nehra - Malik and Razzaq, the consummate finisher, took Pakistan past 320 with aggressive running, cleverly placed shots, and a little help from Indian fumbles in the field. It proved to be just about enough, despite an unforgettable knock from Tendulkar.