Harbhajan Heroics Knock Pakistan Out Of Asia Cup
India 271-7 (Gambhir 83, Dhoni 56, Saeed Ajmal 3-53) beat
Pakistan 267 (Salman Butt 74, Kamran Akmal 51) by three wickets
Asia Cup game four, Dambulla
Harbhajan Singh hit the penultimate delivery of the final over for a six as India sealed a fine three-wicket win over Pakistan in game four of the Asia Cup in Dambulla.
Opening batsman Salman Butt and wicket-keeper Kamran Akmal scored half-centuries before Pakistan were bowled out for 267 and despite half-centuries from Gautam Gambhir and Mahendra Singh Dhoni, India looked to heading to defeat before closing on 271 for seven with Harbhajan's late show sealng them the game.
The result also ended Pakistan's chances of progressing to the final, which will now be contested by India and Sri Lanka on 24th June - the winner of which will take a record fifth title.
Gambhir stroked 83 in 97 balls with six fours and a six as India made a solid start to their run chase but they began to lose wickets to Pakistan's spinners.
Saeed Ajmal (3-53) bowled Gambhir, Virat Kohli (18) and Ravi Jadeja (6), Shoaib Malik bowled Dhoni for 56 and Shahid Afridi had Rohit Sharma trapped in front for 22 as India's innings threatened to collapse.
Dhoni appeared to be keeping things in control with his 71-ball innings but the match went down to the wire after his dismissal.
The other man to take a wicket was pacer Abdul Razzaq, who had the dangerous Virender Sehwag caught by wicket-keeper Kamran Akmal for ten early on.
Fortunately for India, Suresh Raina hit a brisk 34 in 27 balls to keep them in with a chance, the left-hander hammering two fours and two sixes but his run out , in the final over bowled by Mohammad Aamer, was another late twist.
Harbhajan, however, delivered, hitting the ball over deep midwicket to end a thrilling match in fitting fashion and finish unbeaten himself on 15 in 11 balls.
Earlier, Butt made 71 and Kamran Akmal an aggressive 51 in 41 balls as Pakistan looked to take advantage of winning the toss and deciding to bat first.
Butt dominated an opening stand worth 71 with Imran Farhat (25) and he also shared a half-century stand with Shoaib Malik (39) for the second wicket. He stroked nine fours before he was run out by Ravi Jadeja.
Umar Akmal (21), Umar Amin (5) and Shahid Afridi (32) then struggled to build on a solid platform but Akmal's late innings, which included two fours and three sixes, hauled them up to a competitive score.
Pick of the bowlers for India was Praveen Kumar, who returned three for 53 by having Afridi, Kamran Akmal and Razzaq (3) dismissed while Zaheer Khan and Harbhajan both took a pair of wickets.
India won their opening match against Bangladesh while Pakistan lost to hosts Sri Lanka in the four-team tournament.
© Cricket World 2010