Not since November 1978, when Mohinder and Surinder Amarnath played in the same XI, have two brothers represented India in an ODI. So when the Indians gathered to give Yusuf Pathan his cap before the start of Pakistan's innings, it was a special moment. If he'd spent the dinner break doing his hair, the effort would have been wasted as his team-mates gave him the affectionate head ruffle before his brother Irfan embraced him warmly as the two walked out together.
Younis Khan had a shocking match right from the first over, when he grassed a straightforward chance at second slip to give Gautam Gambhir a reprieve on 4. He watched another ball fly past his left for four a while later but when Gambhir gave him an opportunity to make amends, Younis floored another simple chance in the cordon. Gambhir was on 29 and went on to make 62. It was about to get much worse for Younis. He came to bat in the third over of Pakistan's chase and edged his first ball to Mahendra Singh Dhoni. It was his second consecutive duck, after having been run out without facing a ball against Bangladesh.
After Younis had dropped two chances, Pakistan finally seemed to have got a breakthrough as Virender Sehwag edged Iftikhar Anjum to Kamran Akmal, who dived low to his right and held the catch with one glove. Or so they thought. After Akmal had thrown the ball up in celebration, Sehwag walked all the way to the boundary before a team-mate came out to tell him that replays showed the ball had touched the ground as Akmal completed his dive. Sehwag walked slowly back to the middle and after referring the decision to the third umpire, the on-field officials allowed him to continue batting. Sehwag promptly dispatched three of his next five balls to the boundary.
Sohail Tanvir and Yusuf were integral parts of the Rajasthan Royals' IPL success story but in Mirpur they were on opposite sides. They had come up against each other once before, in the World Twenty20 final in Johannesburg when Yusuf scored one run off three balls from Tanvir. Today, Tanvir hit Yusuf on the pad twice in succession and each time roared an appeal for lbw. The first one was missing off stump but the second shout was terribly close.
Wahab Riaz, Pakistan's left-arm fast bowler, had a relatively easy baptism in international cricket against Zimbabwe and Bangladesh. India was his first stern test and he had a mixed day. One of the catches Younis dropped was off his bowling and the Indian openers took 32 in his first four overs. He came back strongly in his second spell by dismissing both Gambhir and Sehwag, but Dhoni pummelled him for three fours in an over during his final spell. His outing ended prematurely when he fired a beamer at Irfan which went for four; he had already bowled a high full toss at Yusuf earlier and had to be taken out of the attack.
After Wahab was barred from bowling, there were four balls remaining in the 46th over. Tanvir and Umar Gul had two left and Shoaib Malik, whose dodgy shoulder prevented him from bowing, decided to give Tanvir the ball with Irfan Pathan and Suresh Raina at the crease. The decision meant that a part-timer would have to bowl one over. Malik delayed giving the non-regular bowler an over until the 50th , by which time India had lost eight wickets. Younis bowled the final over at Praveen Kumar and Piyush Chawla, conceded only three runs and left with a massive smile on his face.
The discoloured ball was difficult to spot from the press box as it streaked across the grass. In the 30th over of India's innings, Yuvraj raised the issue of the ball being difficult to see with the umpire, but with the mandatory ball change just around the corner, his request was not met. It didn't make much of a difference though, as Yuvraj managed to smack Iftikhar for a six over long-off in the 32nd over. We, in the press box, lost sight of it again.
Riaz committed the only front-foot offence in India's innings. His first attempt at getting the free-hit delivery right went awry and he sprayed it too wide outside off stump. The next attempt was spot on and the yorker crashed into Yuvraj's boot off the inside edge. Yuvraj ran the single and then clutched his boot in pain at the non-striker's end.
George Binoy is a staff writer at Cricinfo