25 overs Pakistan 138 for 2 (Butt 56*, Inzamam 2*) need 155 more in 25 overs to beat India 292 for 6 (Yuvraj 78, Sehwag 53, Ganguly 48, Laxman 43)
Live scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Shoaib Malik and Salman Butt led the run-chase at the Eden Gardens as Pakistan made a superb start in their quest for 293. They lost Younis Khan for a duck, as he edged a drive off Zaheer Khan to Virender Sehwag at first slip, but Malik and Butt not only averted the fall of more early wickets, they also got the runs coming at a good clip. Although Malik was dismissed for 61 in the 24th over, Pakistan were still well placed. After 25 overs, they were 138 for 2, and with eight wickets in hand, an asking rate of 6.20 was eminently achievable.
Both Malik and Butt started circumspectly, especially against Irfan Pathan, who managed to find some exaggerated swing in his first couple of overs but, as the dew on the ground got heavier and the swing dried up, the comfort levels for both batsmen increased, especially as the Indian seam attack had a sameness to it, with three left-armers in operation.
The two Pakistani batsmen had clearly defined roles, and both played their parts to perfection. Butt was the anchor - his driving on the off side had plenty of flourish, but as his innings progressed he was increasingly content to nudge the singles and turn the strike over.
Malik, on the other hand, attacked the bowlers - both pace and spin - and looked to throw them off their rhythm. He smashed Pathan for three successive fours in the ninth over - all through the off side - and when the spinners came on, he was adept at using his feet, twice smashing Sehwag over long-on for six. Butt brought up his fifty off 75 balls, while Malik's came in just 51 balls.
Pakistan were coasting along, when a ball change altered India's fortunes. Sehwag, bowling with the dry ball, got one to grip and turn, and Malik could only spoon a catch to Mohammad Kaif at midwicket (128 for 2). The pair had put together 113, and while the dismissal gave India temporary respite, they still had to deal with Inzamam-ul-Haq and Yousuf Youhana, Pakistan's two best batsmen.
50 overs India 292 for 6 (Yuvraj 78, Sehwag 53, Afridi 2-29) v Pakistan
Yuvraj Singh proved, once again, why he is such a vital cog in the Indian one-day line-up. With the innings losing momentum after a superb start, Yuvraj came in and turned it around with an electrifying 78 off 62 balls, which left Pakistan with a daunting 293-run target to chase under lights at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata.
A packed house had plenty of boundaries to celebrate. VVS Laxman (43) and Virender Sehwag (53) were the early pace setters, but the central protagonist was Yuvraj. Dropped from the Test side, he hit back with a vengeance, driving powerfully down the ground, and belting boundaries square of the wicket whenever offered the width. His innings was largely the reason for India scoring 115 from the last 13 overs as Pakistan floundered in the field after threatening to restrict India to around 250.
After Sourav Ganguly won the toss and chose to bat, the early anticipation was for another pitched battle between Sachin Tendulkar and Shoaib Akhtar. That was scotched early, though, when Tendulkar was caught short of his crease after a direct hit from Younis Khan at short midwicket (29 for 1). Tendulkar had earlier executed an incredible pull shot off the front foot off Shoaib, and then, a ball later, was put down by Abdul Razzaq at mid-on. The crowd's appetite had been whetted, but unfortunately, that was as far as the Tendulkar-Shoaib battle progressed.
Laxman and Sehwag made light of that early setback. Fresh from a fluent half-century against Australia at Mumbai, Laxman continued in the same vein, bringing those magical wrists into play time and again to execute some sumptuous flicks. He was aided generously by Pakistan's bowlers, especially Naved-ul-Hasan, who repeatedly fed him deliveries around middle and leg. Sehwag struggled through much of his early innings, but with Laxman in such sublime form, that hardly mattered - the 82-run partnership needed just 83 balls.
Shahid Afridi pulled it back for Pakistan, nailing both batsmen quickly: Laxman feathered an edge to Kamran Akmal (111 for 2), while Sehwag, after showing glimpses of his amazing talent - a straight hit off a Shoaib slower ball was an outrageous stroke - fell attempting a hopeless swipe (124 for 3).
Rahul Dravid failed to do the consolidating act, and when he fell in the 33rd over, India's run-rate fell below five for the first time since the tenth over. The rate continued to drop, as Afridi, Shoaib Malik and Razzaq staunched the runs in the middle overs. Yuvraj, though, was only biding his time.
He began with a checked straight-drive off Razzaq, and then broke loose after the ball was changed in the 37th over. Malik was swept behind square for a six and a four and Razzaq was creamed quite exquisitely behind and in front of square, but both Yuvraj and Ganguly reserved their best for Mohammad Sami, who was spanked for 51 in six overs. Twice in successive overs, Ganguly smote him for sixes on the on side, but the stroke that oozed the most class was Yuvraj's - a full-length delivery was met with the full face of the bat and a perfect follow-through as the ball sailed over for a straight six.
Ganguly fell soon after, just two short of his fifty, when Akmal held on to a miscued hoick, but Yuvraj continued the onslaught. The entry of Mohammad Kaif meant a fresher pair of legs, and some quickly scampered twos further increased Inzamam-ul-Haq's misery. With Sami proving so ineffective, Naved was given the task of bowling at the death, and he struggled too, offering plenty of full-tosses and wides down the leg side. Yuvraj finally fell off the penultimate ball of the innings, but by then he had done enough to take India to an imposing total.
S Rajesh is assistant editor of Wisden Cricinfo.