India romp to comprehensive victory
Centuries by Virender Sehwag and Rahul Dravid set India up for a convincing 87-run win against Pakistan in the first one-day international, at Kochi. Recovering from the loss of two early wickets, and despite slowing down in the slog overs, India made 281 for 8. Pakistan lost four early wickets, and Sachin Tendulkar took five wickets in the middle overs as Pakistan crumbled to 194 in 45.2 overs. It was a game played in scorching temperatures of more than 40 degrees celsius and high humidity, conditions that made cricket difficult. India coped the better of the two teams.
They won the toss and batted first on a pitch that was a belter, but lost two wickets in the second over. Rana Naved-ul-Hasan dismissed Sachin Tendulkar for 4 and Sourav Ganguly for 0, and India's two batting heroes of the Test series, Sehwag and Dravid, found themselves at the crease with the score on 4 for 2. Then they added 201 runs.
Sehwag had a shaky start - he was dropped twice early in his innings, and played a few streaky strokes. But once he settled down, he launched into a flurry of boundaries. When Sehwag is set, aggression is not necessarily risky, and what appears exotic to others is bread and butter for him. Full ball outside off? Midwicket boundary. And so on.
Dravid's innings was more controlled. His strokeplay was precise, he ran hard between the wickets, and India's run-rate lifted to close to six an over. India were 205 for 2 at the end of the 35th over, but both batsmen were utterly exhausted by the heat. Sehwag, who had completed his century, was looking only to slog, and was duly bowled by Abdul Razzaq while trying to smash a ball out of the ground.
Dravid, meanwhile, was panting as he completed his runs, and lay down for a rest when a break in play happened. It was clearly time for the younger men to take over the onus of making big runs, but none of them managed to do so. Yuvraj Singh and Mohammad Kaif got their eye in and mishit slog-sweeps off Arshad Khan to be caught in the deep, and all the other wickets fell off slogging attempts, except Dravid's. Dravid was run out for 104, barely able to stretch himself.
Salman Butt and Kamran Akmal opened Pakistan's innings, and Butt hit some early boundaries as the bowlers gave him too much width. The pair added 45 runs in 39 balls before Akmal smashed Lakshmipathy Balaji straight to Sehwag at point. Four runs later, Ashish Nehra finally got his captain's instructions right, bowling a short ball on Butt's hips, and Ganguly caught the resultant flick at square leg, taking a good high catch.
Shoaib Malik then smashed Balaji to Yuvraj at point. Four overs later, Zaheer Khan took a diving one-handed return catch to his right to get rid of Yousuf Youhana.
Inzamam-ul-Haq and Mohammad Hafeez added 48 useful runs in the highest partnership of the innings. Hafeez began slowly, but hit a couple of powerful sixes and used his feet well against the spinners. Once Inzamam was out, though, wickets fell steadily, and by the time Hafeez was the ninth man out, having top-scored with 42, victory was impossible.
Inzamam played a composed innings, driving and pulling powerfully when he got the chance, but doing nothing untoward otherwise. But the required run-rate climbed past seven an over, and he was deceived, and bowled, by a quicker ball from Tendulkar that he tried to glide onto the off side.
Apres him le deluge de Tendulkar wickets. One by one, batsmen tried to slog him and got out, as he finished with the second five-wicket haul of his one-day international career, in which he has now taken 137 wickets. He had failed with the bat, but had made up for it with the ball, and looked rather pleased at the end of it all. And why not?
Tendulkar c Youhana b Naved 4 (4 for 1) Tried to pull, ball rose more than expected, looped up to mid-on.
Sourav Ganguly b Naved 0 (4 for 2) Stepped across his stumps as the ball swung towards leg and sneaked past him to hit the leg stump.
Sehwag b Razzaq 108 (205 for 3) Bowled while attempting a wild slog.
Yuvraj c Butt b Arshad 16 (241 for 4) Top-edge off a slog sweep, caught in the deep.
Kaif c Afridi b Arshad 7 (255 for 5) Ditto.
Dhoni c Naved b Arshad 3 (260 for 6) Slog to deep midwicket.
Dravid run out 104 (265 for 7) Run out going for a quick single.
Balaji b Arshad 0 (269 for 8) Bowled going for a slog over square leg.
Akmal c Sehwag b Balaji 17 (45 for 1) Slashed uppishly to point.
Butt c Ganguly b Nehra 26 (49 for 2) Flicked a short ball on his hips, good overhead catch at square leg.
Malik c Yuvraj b Balaji 4 (49 for 3) Slashed uppishly to point.
Youhana c & b Zaheer 0 (64 for 4) Powerful drive towards mid-on, superb diving catch with one hand.
Inzamam-ul-Haq b Tendulkar 37 (112 for 5) Tried to steer a faster one on the off side, missed
Razzaq c Sehwag b Tendulkar 5 (129 for 6)
Full toss outside leg, desperate attempt at a sweep popped up to short fine leg
Afridi c Zaheer b Tendulkar 8 (146 for 7) Slog to square leg
Sami c & b Tendulkar 2 (151 for 8) Beaten by flight, easy return catch
Hafeez c Nehra b Tendulkar 42 (152 for 9) Pulled to deep midwicket
Naved b Zaheer 25 (194 all out) Tried to slog, missed