Rayudu and Murtaza star in four-wicket win
The India XI thoroughly outplayed their Pakistan counterparts in their first outing of the ICL 20s World Series, chasing down a target of 166 with five balls to spare. It was a good win for India, who kept Pakistan to a gettable total, bar a few dropped catches, and their chase was aided by a similarly sloppy display from Pakistan. Ambati Rayudu did not finish what he started, but batted long enough to ensure those behind him didn't sweat too much. Hemang Badani saw India through with an unbeaten 32 from 22 deliveries
India lost the explosive G Vignesh in the first over, run out by a direct hit from Shahid Yousuf when he harried down the track and did not pay heed to Ibrahim Khaleel's call to stay put. An entertaining partnership followed.
Khaleel and Rayudu, who was reprieved by Imran Nazir at backward point on 4, struck the ball confidently and with precision. Rana Naved-ul-Hasan was taken for 14 in his opening over, and Khaleel looked good for a few runs more before Arshad Khan drew a mishit on 36, scored from 27 balls. Stuart Binny failed to convert a dropped catch and drove a return catch back to Arshad and Mohammad Sami got R Sathish cheaply as well. Rayudu continued to hit the ball well and crossed fifty from 36 balls with an inside-out slash.
Having just thumped a long hop through cover, Rayudu chased a lifting delivery from Abdul Razzaq and was brilliantly taken by the wicketkeeper, Humayun Farhat, with the score reading 132 for 5. At this stage, India needed 34 from 28 balls. Inzamam-ul-Haq brought back Sami and he uprooted S Abbas Ali's stumps when 13 were still required. Badani kept his cool and in the company of Reetinder Singh Sodhi, finished the match in the final over.
The success for India was laid by the start they had with the ball. Four balls into the match, Pakistan had lost Imran Farhat, mistiming a pull off Rajamani Jesuraj to mid-on. Nazir - who slammed 392 runs at 43.55 with a strike rate of 175.78 in the recently concluded tournament - signalled his intent with a four and a six off Jesuraj, but the bowler had the final say when Nazir went the same way as Farhat in the third over. Rana continued his free-hitting fun, smacking Binny and Sodhi's military medium-pace with disdain, even as Yousuf went pulling Vignesh to midwicket.
Inzamam's arrival at the crease in the ninth over was a potential minefield for India. Rana was looking solid on 44 from 30 balls when Murtaza was called back. It took him one delivery to send Rana back - another massive swing going nowhere but down Badani's throat at long-on. Murtaza was immediately taken off for three overs - during which Pakistan scored 27 - and returned to trap Inzamam lbw for 24 on the sweep. Razzaq followed in the next over but the luckless Eklak Ahmid looked on in despair as two catches were dropped in one over.
Murtaza added Tahir Mughal for 12, Jesuraj dismissed Humayun, and Pakistan ended their innings on 165 for 9. Scores in that region had been chased down frequently this past month, and India found themselves in familiar territory.