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Butt scripts Pakistan's victory

By S. Sabanayakan



TIMBER! Virender Sehwag's ambitious sweep off Shahid Afridi ends in disaster in the Platinum Jubilee one-dayer on Saturday. _ Photo: V.V. Krishnan

KOLKATA, NOV. 13. Pakistan scripted a scintillating six-wicket victory keeping with the legacy of the venue by mastering India for the third successive time at the Eden Gardens here on Saturday.

The Pakistan triumph, in the one-off one-day International, played to commemorate the Platinum Jubilee of the Indian Board, achieved with consummate ease only stressed that the recent success of Pakistan over India was not a flash in the pan.

Man of the Match Salman Butt, playing in his sixth international, posted his career-best knock of 108 not out and in the company of skipper Inzamam-ul-Haq (75) guided the team to one of the most remarkable victories ever seen here.

It looked like Butt would be unable to continue owing to a pulled leg muscle and retired hurt on 68. He returned at the fall of Yousuf Youhana's wicket. The partnership with his captain was worth 98 for the fourth wicket that completely changed the game.

The early loss of opener Younis Khan for 15 runs did not deter the two young talent of Pakistan as left-handed Salman Butt and No. 3 Shoaib Malik powered the side on course to be within the striking distance of the Indian total.

Malik and Butt put on 113 for the second wicket in 20.4 overs and set the stage for what could be a deserving victory. But for Yuvraj Singh's dropping of Butt off Irfan Pathan at backward point when the batsman was on 29 (team's score was 58 for one), the course of the game would have taken a different route.

Gem of an innings

Malik's innings was a gem. Playing shots fearlessly, the right-hander moved smoothly to his ninth half century of his career in 51 balls with four 4s and a 6. Butt, rather sedate in his approach, moved into top gear as he grew in confidence.

Butt too reached 50, his second, in 75 balls with seven 4s but had the mortification of seeing his dominant partner leave to a ball that could have been left alone. He tried to play a turning Virender Sehwag delivery, pitched outside the line of the stumps, and the resultant catch was taken by Mohd. Kaif at short squareleg.

Malik, who crossed 2,000 ODI runs when he went past 32, hit 61 off 55 balls with the aid of five hits to the fence and two over it.

Solid batting

Earlier, India put up a solid batting display against Pakistan to score its highest one-day total of 292 for six in 50 overs at this venue. Electing to bat on a firm pitch, the Indian batsmen produced some superb strokeplay to have the measure of the Pakistani attack. Excellent half centuries by opener Virender Sehwag and middle order batsman Yuvraj Singh and two useful knocks by V.V.S. Laxman and skipper Sourav Ganguly gave the Indian batting the required momentum to reach what looked like a very challenging total of 292. Pakistan needed to score at 5.86 per over to overhaul the total.

The match, part of the Board of Control for Cricket in India's (BCCI) Platinum Jubilee celebrations, had a good beginning with the two Indian openers negotiating the speed merchants of Pakistan — Shoaib Akhtar and Rana Naved-ul-Hassan — averaging little less than five per over. When it was thought that the Indian openers would give their team a flying start, Tendulkar (16), who was dropped by Abdul Razzaq at mid-on off Akhtar in the fifth over, called for a non-existent run and was dismissed by Younis Khan's direct underarm flick in the next over.

At the fall of this wicket, Ganguly sprang a surprise by sending in Laxman at No. 3 and the Hyderabad right-hander grabbed the opportunity with both hands. Stylish Laxman and Sehwag quickly settled down and produced one of the best moments of the innings with splendid strokes.

The two put on a fine 82-run partnership for the second wicket in 85 balls before Laxman departed first for a well-made 43. He played inside the line of Shahid Afridi's quicker one and was caught behind.

Sehwag opened up in the company of skipper Ganguly to reach his 15th half century of his career and second versus Pakistan in 61 balls with six 4s and two 6s. In trying to heave Afridi out of the ground, Sehwag failed to read a flipper that crashed into the stumps. Sehwag's 53 was made in 65 balls with six 4s and two 6s.

Flawless Yuvraj

There was always an element of chance in Ganguly's stroke production. But Yuvraj's innings was fluent and flawless. Timing and power marked Yuvraj's knock and it was because of his contribution at No. 6 that enabled India to surpass its previous best of 281 for six against England in 2002.

When it looked the fifth wicket partnership would develop into a big one, Ganguly swung an Akhtar short-pitched ball only to top edge high and behind the wicketkeeper. Kamran Akmal did well to run back and take a well-judged catch to dismiss Ganguly for 48. The skipper's departure meant the fifth wicket produced 74 runs in 73 balls.

Yuvraj and Mohammad Kaif added another 53 runs for the sixth wicket with the former being the dominant partner. Yuvraj made sure that India would have plenty of runs to back its bowlers before hitting the penultimate ball into the hands of Younis Khan off Rana for 78.

Scoreboard

INDIA
V. Sehwag b Afridi53
(65b, 6x4, 2x6)
S. Tendulkar (run out)16
(17b, 2x4)
V. V. S. Laxman c Akmal

b Afridi

43
(44b, 5x4)
S. Ganguly c Akmal

b Akhtar

48
(70b, 1x4, 2x6)
R. Dravid c Afridi

b Razzaq

16
(34b, 1x4)
Yuvraj c Younis b Rana78
(62b, 10x4, 2x6)
Mohd. Kaif (not out)14
(11b)
I. Pathan (not out)0
(0b)
Extras (b-4, lb-6, nb-3, w-11)24
— —
Total (for six wkts.

in 50 overs)

292
— —
Fall of wickets: 1-29 (Tendulkar), 2-111 (Laxman), 3-124 (Sehwag), 4-163 (Dravid), 5-237 (Ganguly), 6-290 (Yuvraj).

Pakistan bowling: Akhtar 9-1-55-1 (nb-1, w-4), Rana 9-1-67-1 (nb-1, w-1), Sami 6-0-51-0 (w-1), Afridi 10-0-29-2 (w-2), Malik 6-0-31-0 (w-2), Razzaq 10-0-49-1 (nb-1, w-1).

PAKISTAN
S. Butt (not out)108
(130b, 13x4)
Younis Khan c Sehwag
b Zaheer0
(7b)
S. Malik c Kaif b Sehwag61
(55b, 5x4, 2x6)
Inzamam c Sehwag
b Nehra75
(75b, 8x4, 1x6)
Y. Youhana c Dravid
b Nehra18
(25b, 1x4)
A. Razzaq (not out)1
(3b)
Extras (lb-5, nb-2, w-23)30
— —
Total (for four wkts.

in 49 overs)

293
— —
Fall of wickets: 1-15 (Khan), 2-128 (Malik), 3-186 (Youhana), 4-284 (Inzamam).

India bowling: Pathan 10-1-48-0 (w-2), Zaheer 10-1-47-1 (nb-1, w-6), Nehra 10-0-65-2 (nb-1, w-1), Harbhajan 10-0-51-0 (w-9), Sehwag 6-0-43-1 (w-5), Tendulkar 1-0-15-0, Ganguly 1-0-9-0, Yuvraj 1-0-10-0.

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