India 292 for 5 (Tendulkar 95, Yuvraj 79*, Dhoni 72*) beat Pakistan 288 for 8 (Malik 108, Razzaq 64*) by 5 wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
How they were out

Sachin Tendulkar's 95 went a long way in ensuring that India got through a difficult situation early in their run-chase © AFP

An irresistible batting force swept across the floodlit Gaddafi Stadium as India produced a superbly-paced run-chase, clinching their 11th consecutive win while chasing in a one-dayer to record a memorable five-wicket triumph.

Three dazzling half-centuries - with Sachin Tendulkar coating his with a varnish of genius, Yuvraj Singh reeking confidence from every pore, and Mahendra Singh Dhoni jam-packing his with immense power - blended into an intoxicating mix as India cruised to an imposing 289 and ran away to a 2-1 lead in the series.

Pakistan played a part in a sensational contest between bat and ball - Shoaib Malik and Abdul Razzaq dug them out of a rut while Mohammad Asif and Umar Gul put in an outstanding new-ball display - but they fell apart in the face of the Indian batting juggernaut, one that was unstoppable on this day.

Chasing 289 under overcast skies, with the ball deviously snaking around, was never going to be easy and Asif conjured up a few magical balls to reduce India to 12 for 2. What stunned Pakistan, though, was the sublime touch of Tendulkar and his textbook-perfect judgment blended with dazzling strokeplay in a truly magnificent innings.

He was lucky twice - first when Asif, at third man, couldn't get his hands on a hard chance and later, on 36, when Kamran Akmal grassed a regulation chance down the leg side - but his impeccable defensive methods made him stand apart. Unlike Dravid, who looked mostly lost against a magnificent spell of seam bowling, Tendulkar left with precision and displayed signs of his vintage best.

The attacking strokes were reeled off with a stamp of the emphatic - cover-drives drawing wonderous gasps, straight-drives automatically bringing the hands together in applause, back-foot pulls reminiscent of a little lad who charmed a nation, and the impish improvisation that left the bowlers aghast and helpless. He left with the platform all set, ready for two wonder kids to seal the issue.

And seal it they did. In an incandescent exhibition in the glittering night, Yuvraj and Dhoni clattered 102 in just 79 balls, clinically dismantling the bowling attack. Rana was singled out for punishment, with his eight overs being hammered to the tune of 72 runs, while Asif and Yasir Arafat were also taken apart later on.

While Tendulkar was sparkling at one end, Yuvraj provided a fizz of his own, creaming boundary after astonishing boundary in a thundering innings. His fifty came in 49 balls, fours sprinkled to all corners, struck with a force rivaling any all day, and he soon settled into a cruise mode with victory well within sights.

But the real zinger of a knock came from Dhoni, peeling off a whirlwind 79 in just 46 balls, pelting one-handed fours past cover, ripping forehands down the lines past the bowler, plundering boundaries at will and leaving only one possible result. Dhoni batted with a sense of inevitability and at no point of time did he look hurried or tense. His original strokeplay would leave most bowling attacks flabbergasted but the one thing that can leave the opposition hopeless is his calm under a crisis. Staggeringly, he even found time to laugh and settled the issue with an emphatic pull off Razzaq, pumping his fists and celebrating a famous win.

India celebrate victory © AFP
Such a classic contest would not have been possible without Malik's and Razzaq's heroics earlier today. Having been inserted under overcast skies, most of Pakistan's batsmen refused to get over the Rawalpindi rashness, succumbing to poor shot selection, but Malik's composure and Razzaq's devastating swipes at the death lifted them to a healthy total. India's medium-pace attack made the most of the conducive conditions and justified Rahul Dravid's decision to field but three dropped chances, all off Sreesanth, and all within the first 15 overs, made their task that much harder.

Indian teams of the past have been tormented by a Malik, the cheeky Saleem who could seamlessly shift gears and single-handedly steer the innings, but it's been another Malik, the unruffled Shoaib, who has been their nemesis off late. He was lucky on 12, when Gautam Gambhir grassed a low chance at second slip, but he made up for it with his third 90-plus score in as many games. Partners came and left in a hurry but he somehow kept the rate hovering at close to five an over. Singles were stolen, twos poached, fours slyly manufactured and suddenly upped the rate.

Razzaq soon joined in the flood, unleashing macho forehands past cover, and Pakistan were hurtling along at a rapid pace. Malik's second fifty came in just 40 balls, Razzaq's fifty was blitzed in 51 and Pakistan juddered 89 off the last 10 overs, recovering from the depths of 128 for 5. On this day, though, no total might have been enough. The force, as they say, was with only one team.


Salman Butt c Gambhir b Pathan 0 (0 for 1)
Poked at an away swinger; juggled take at second slip

Shahid Afridi c Kaif b Pathan 19 (39 for 2)
Tried to lift it over midwicket but skied it to cover

Kamran Akmal c Pathan b RP Singh 34 (75 for 3)
Attempted to turn it to leg but leading edge ballooned to mid-off

Mohammad Yousuf c Dhoni b RP Singh 1 (82 for 4)
Drove wildly away from his body

Inzamam-ul-Haq c Dhoni b Tendulkar 16 (128 for 5)
Edged while trying to late cut

Younis Khan c Dhoni b RP Singh 16 (158 for 6)
Edged to the keeper attempting a glide

Shoaib Malik c Dravid b Pathan 108 (244 for 7)
Mistimed a lofted drive; mid-off completes a swirling chance

Rana Naved-ul-Hasan run-out (RP Singh) 7 (277 for 8)
Had no chance when he drive to cover and took off


Gambhir b Asif 2 (12 for 1)
Bowled round his legs after ball deflected off his thigh pad

Pathan c Akmal b Asif 0 (12 for 2)
Gloved a fizzing lifter; fine jumping catch from the wicketkeeper

Dravid run-out (Gul) 22 (84 for 3)
Drove straight to mid-on and took off; beaten by a direct hit

Sachin Tendulkar c Farhat (sub) b Razzaq 95 (189 for 4)
Pushed uppishly to point

Mohammad Kaif lbw b Gul 2 (190 for 5)
Trapped in front by an incutter

Siddhartha Vaidyanathan is staff writer of Cricinfo