<
>

Misbah's redemption and Yuvraj's valiant leaps

There is no good redemption
Where was Bob Marley when we needed him? It was fightback time once again and Misbah-ul-Haq could have redeemed himself after the World Twenty20 loss by seeing his side through in Mohali. He had said he wouldn't shy away from playing the scoop over fine leg, that had led to his downfall in Johannesburg, if the opportunity presented, and he was true to his word tonight. He played it again, with 39 required off 26. He didn't need Sreesanth for support this time, though, as he played it on to his stumps. His innings was no less crucial than the one he played in the World Twenty20 final as he, along with Younis Khan, brought Pakistan close to victory before getting out.

That elusive catch
It wasn't only Sachin Tendulkar who nearly got there. Yuvraj Singh tried to pull what would have been two blinders in the field. First running from square leg, he almost reached a skier from Younis Khan, which landed at mid-on. In hindsight he could have let the man at long-on make an attempt running in, as opposed to himself running backwards.

The next one would have been the real beauty. Shahid Afridi had hit Zaheer Khan for three continuous boundaries and brought the target down to 21 off 14. Next one was a leading edge that went between the sight-screen and mid-off. Yuvraj ran from wide long-off, full throttle, launched for a full-length dive, but could only get a finger to it. Both the batsmen went on to make India suffer: Younis had scored 72 off 78 balls; he eventually got out for 117 off 110.

Deceptive Shoaib
There was a time when it looked Shoaib Akhtar couldn't bowl one ball at the stumps. In the 39th over of the Indian innings, he would have frustrated his captain the most. With Pakistan already running behind the over-rate, he bowled back-to-back wides and all of a sudden his celebrated long run-up started to seem excruciatingly long. That's when he cut down on it, but bowled - surprise - a wide again. Yet for all the extras he bowled, he had the best figures in the match: 10-1-42-3. And the maiden came in the 47th over of the innings. The Rawalpindi Express might have started late, but it did arrive, and did help Pakistan restrict India.

Free hit, same difference
Relevant statistic: The free-hit rule seems to have benefitted the over-rate as since its introduction, the no-ball-per-match rate has come down considerably. Irrelevant statistic: When Sachin Tendulkar tried to make room and failed to make proper contact off a free hit, the scorer at the PCA Stadium was quick to claim this was the third free-hit opportunity Tendulkar had got and had failed to score on any of them. The scorer chose to stay silent when in the 24th over, Tendulkar brought out his trademark paddle sweep to a free hit off Shoaib Malik, getting his first runs off a free hit: four of them.