Friday, Dec 26, 2003
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By S. Sabanayakan
Amit Bhandari is ecstatic after dismissing Faizal Iqbal. Photo: Sushanta Patronobish
India posted a mammoth 329 for six in 50 overs with four of the top five batsmen coming good after the team decided to bat first on a batsman's paradise.
Facing a stiff run rate of 6.6 per over, the Pakistan `A' top order capitulated in the face of some inspiring seam bowling by Amit Bhandari.
After being reduced to 44 for five by the ninth over, Pakistan was provided some hope by Naveed Latif who blasted his way to 128 off just 124 balls with 11 boundaries and seven sixes. Pakistan was bowled out for 240 in the 48th over.
Earlier, the opening partnership of 154 between Gautam Gambhir and Sanjay Bangar gave India `A' a solid foundation.
Gambhir was impressive once again and his stroke-filled 82 (75b, 12x4, 1x6) underlined his potential. Bangar, who held fort at the other end, opened up after Gambhir's exit and went on to make 81 (108b, 13x4).
The best phase of the Indian innings, however, was the 121-run association for the fourth wicket between Yuvraj Singh and Mohammad Kaif.
Yuvraj was at his sparkling best while scoring 60 (43b, 7x4, 1x6), and together with Kaif's 75 (74b, 5x4, 1x6), it was largely instrumental in swelling the Indian total to 329.
Bhandari's superb spell, combined with some poor shot selection by the top-order, left the Pakistanis in disarray. Imran Nazir dragged the ball on to the stumps while trying to square-cut while Shahid Afridi played an irresponsible shot. Munaf Patel looking ordinary again produced a special delivery to send back Muhammad Hafeez as Pakistan slid to 26 for three in just 3.4 overs.
Bhandari then struck twice in quick succession to remove Faizal Iqbal and Salman Butt. However, Naveed provided a lesson on shot selection to his teammates during his three-hour stay.
With his intense concentration, perfect execution of shots and impeccable placement, he took the attack to the Indian bowlers.
The pressure of a huge target and the presence of the tail at the other end did not deter Naveed. He added 35 for the seventh wicket with wicketkeeper Amin-ur-Rehman, 49 for the eighth with Mansoor Amjad and 67 for the ninth in just 64 balls with Junaid Zia to prolong the Pakistan innings till the 48th over.
"We have made the situation tough for us. We need to win the next two games to survive in the tournament,'' said a dejected Afridi. His Indian counterpart, Hemang Badani, praised his bowlers. "It is good that the bowlers did what they were asked to do. They struck to a good line and got the team early breaks.''
After the first round of league matches, Sri Lanka was on top with 10 points with two wins while today's victory, with a bonus point, took India to seven. Pakistan is third with one point.
India `A': Gautam Gambhir c Zia b Amjad 82; Sanjay Bangar c Rehman b Latif 81; Mohammad Kaif st. Rehman b Hafeez 75; Hemang Badani b Latif 0; Yuvraj Singh c Khan b Afridi 60; Dinesh Mongia c Asad b Hafeez 0; Sairaj Bahutule (not out) 0; Ajay Ratra (not out) 2; Extras (lb-14, nb-6, w-9) 29; Total (for six wkts. in 50 overs) 329.
Fall of wickets: 1-154, 2-194, 3-196, 4-317, 5-322, 6-327.
Pakistan `A' bowling: Khan 5-0-35-0, Zia 5-0-42-0 (nb-1, w-2), Asad 4-1-29-0, Hafeez 7-0-58-2 (w-3), Afridi 9-0-49-1 (nb-1, w-1), Amjad 10-0-51-1 (nb-3, w-2), Latif 10-0-51-2 (nb-1, w-1).
Pakistan `A': Imran Nazir b Bhandari 0; Shahid Afridi c Yuvraj b Bhandari 9; Salman Butt c Sarandeep b Bhandari 12; Muhammad Hafeez c Ratra b Patel 13; Faizal Iqbal c Bangar b Bhandari 5; Naveed Latif c Sarandeep b Yuvraj 128; Bilal Asad b Bangar 22; Amin-ur-Rehman c Sarandeep b Bahutule 21; Mansoor Amjad lbw b Mongia 12; Junaid Zia c & b Yuvraj 12; Abdur Rouf Khan (not out) 1; Extras (lb-2, nb-1, w-2) 5; Total (in 48 overs) 240.
Fall of wickets: 1-0, 2-13, 3-26, 4-31, 5-44, 6-72, 7-117, 8-166, 9-233.
India `A' bowling: Bhandari 10-1-47-4, Patel 6-0-41-1, Bangar 7-0-40-1 (w-1), Bahutule 10-2-26-1, S. Singh 5-2-33-0 (w-1), Yuvraj 5-0-25-2, Mongia 5-0-26-1 (nb-1).
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