India A v Pakistan A, Kenya Triangular Tournament, Nairobi August 17, 2004

Gambhir and Dhoni sparkle as India A reach final

Wisden Cricinfo staff

India A 330 for 6 (Gambhir 122, Dhoni 120, Iftikhar Anjum 4-44) beat Pakistan A 209 (Qaisar 58) by 121 runs

Gautam Gambhir and MS Dhoni cracked valuable centuries as India A thrashed Pakistan A by 121 runs at the Nairobi Gymkhana. With this victory, India A qualified for the final and will take on either Kenya or Pakistan A on August 21.

The Pakistanis were to rue their decision of sending the Indians in as Gambhir and Dhoni flogged the bowling to all parts. Their 207-run stand, which came in just 32 overs, provided a solid base for the rest of the batsmen to work on. Gambhir smacked ten fours and three sixes in his 113-ball effort before falling while trying to increase the tempo. His effort won him the Man-of-the-Match award.

Dhoni's 120 came in 122 balls and it contained ten fours and two sixes. Along with Ramesh Powar, he put on 61 runs in rapid fashion and the two propelled India A past the 300 mark. Powar made 33 in just 19 balls. For the Pakistanis, Riaz Afridi, the opening bowler, had a forgettable day as he was smashed for 72 in his ten overs. However, his opening partner, Rao Iftikhar Anjum, came away unscathed amid the welter of run-making and finished with 4 for 44.

The Pakistanis' reply got off to a terrible start, with Shadab Kabir out for a first-ball duck. Amit Bhandari and Shib Shankar Paul, the medium-pacers, struck vital blows as the Pakistanis wilted under the pressure of chasing such a massive target. The match was all but over when they were reduced to 136 for 8, but Qaiser Abbas (58) and Mansoor Amjad delayed the inevitable with a 51-run stand. Pakistan A finally folded for 209, losing by a huge margin of 121 runs.

Kenya face a must-win situation in their game against the Indians today. They suffered a setback to their chances when Maurice Odumbe was ruled out of the game due to a toe injury.