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September 14, 2007
Dream start, nightmare finish
Coming back into international cricket after a while, Virender Sehwag had a dream start: the first ball he faced was a trifle short, and Sehwag played a short-arm flick so effortlessly that it was easy to wonder why he had been kept out of the side for so long. The answer wasn't long in coming: the third ball he faced, his first from Mohammad Asif, did all the things that bother Sehwag - it pitched on a good length, came at a lively pace, and nipped back enough to beat the middle of the bat and take the inside edge. At least Sehwag can't complain about encountering unfamiliar situations on his return.
Uthappa hits back
For nine overs, India danced to the tune of Pakistan's fast bowlers, especially Mohammad Asif. Then, in the tenth, the batsmen called the shots, albeit briefly. Robin Uthappa first walked down the wicket and creamed Yasir Arafat over long-off for an exquisite six, and then pulled him off the front foot for another. The Indian flags, which easily outnumbered the Pakistani ones today, finally got an opportunity to make their presence felt.
The rain dance
To drizzle or not to drizzle? That seemed the perennial question through the first couple of hours of the game. Play started on time, but soon the weather gods decided to intervene, but in such a manner that everyone was kept on tenterhooks, with the covers coming on, going off, coming on, going off, and then again. Once the covers had only managed to travel halfway up to the stumps when the drizzle stopped, and it was time for play again. It served the Pakistan cause nicely, though - twice a wicket fell off the first ball after resumption.
b>The last ball
Mahendra Singh Dhoni consulted with almost half the team and then decided that the entire team would be in the inner ring, then had a change of heart and off went Gautam Gambhir to the cover boundary, then finally raced around to backward point. The entire exercise took at least a couple of minutes, before Sreeanth charged in and pitched it short. Misbah's weak stroke couldn't pierce the infield, and we had the second tie in Twenty20 internationals.
The Misbah factor With Pakistan seemingly out of the contest, Misbah-ul-Haq produced the kind of blitz which silenced all the questions which had been raised over his selection. There were two powerful blows off Harbhajan, but the shot that showed he had a cool head came off Ajit Agarkar, when, with 18 needed off eight balls, he coolly moved across his stumps and scooped one over fine leg for four. No fuss, little effort, maximum reward.
The comeback kid
Irfan Pathan hasn't had a whole lot to celebrate over the last year, but he had a veritable blast here. His first ball produced a wicket - even if it was a run-out - and after three dot balls it got even better, as Younis Khan chopped one onto his stumps. Pathan leapt up in delight, and the huge smile that flashed across his face showed just how much he was enjoying his comeback.
Stats highlights from the fourth ODI between India and West Indies in Dharamsala