India knocked Pakistan out of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011, beating them by 29 runs in the semi-final in Mohali, and set up a title clash with Sri Lanka on Saturday. In the pressure cooker environment, the target of 261 was a bit too much for the Pakistani batsmen as the Indian bowlers didn’t let them off the leash for long.
Pakistan began their chase on a good note and didn’t show any sign of nerves. Kamran Akmal and Mohammad Hafeez appeared to pick boundaries at will, as the Indian fast bowlers struggled to get the maximum out of the new ball. They were chugging along nicely at five an over when Akmal was caught by Yuvraj Singh, out for 19. It was Zaheer Khan who drew first blood for India. Hazfeez and Asad Shafiq though continued unperturbed even as the Indians bowled a disciplined line and fielded very well to raise the required run-rate. The bowling power play gave away only 18 runs.
Hafeez played a poor shot to Munaf Patel and was out for 44 runs in the 16th over. No one knew it then but the tide was beginning to turn India’s way. The moment dawned soon after though when Yuvraj bowled Shafiq in the 24th over and then in the next over had Younis Khan caught by Suresh Raina. The pitch had started taking slow turn and was acting two-paced even as Pakistan were reduced to 106 for 4. There were more twists to come though; Umar Akmal batted like a dream and plunked Yuvraj for two sixes in two consecutive overs to let off steam. That didn’t cool the climbing asking rate though and he was soon bowled by Harbhajan Singh for 29 runs off 24 balls. With his dismissal in the 34th over, the fight almost went out of Pakistan.
Abdul Razzaq was bowled in the 37th over and Shahid Afridi was out in the 42nd over. The score had only moved from 142 for 5 to 184 for 7. Ashish Nehra who was included in the side instead of R Ashwin, paid off his captain’s gamble in full, taking 2 for 33 in his ten overs. In all India’s three pronged pace attack accounted for six wickets. Only Misbah ul Haq played a lone hand in the end, scoring a fighting fifty but it was too much asking of him.
Earlier in the day, India won the toss and elected to bat first. It seemed a sensible decision in a high pressure game, and Virender Sehwag impressed upon it smashing Umar Gul all over the park. He paced to 38 off only 25 balls, including nine fours, and threatened to bring up the first fifty within six overs. But first change bowler Wahab Riaz kick started a fine day for himself as he trapped Sehwag LBW. Sachin Tendulkar then continued to build the innings with Gambhir, before the Indian batting imploded in the middle overs.
Gambhir departed to the off spin of Mohammad Hafeez, out for 27 runs to a nothing shot. He advanced and pushed at the ball only to be stumped. Before Virat Kohli could put a patch on, Riaz had him caught and then bowled Yuvraj Singh for a golden duck. The in-form left hander got an unplayable ball first up and his leg stump was rocked back. Skipper MS Dhoni braved the storm with Tendulkar who was still jousting with his touch at the other end. He ended up scoring 85 runs off 115 balls, including eleven fours, but it wasn’t his smoothest innings in the tournament. It reflected from the fact that he survived seven close calls – four dropped catches, one edge, one stumping and a very confident LBW shout that was given, but later reviewed.
Skipper Afridi finally caught him off Saeed Ajmal in the 37th over, but he had nearly restricted the damage until then. The Pakistan skipper seemed frustrated throughout with the poor display of his fielders and it turned out to be a major factor in the end for them. Dhoni and Raina steered India past 200 but then the former was out, trying to push the pace. Riaz was back in the attack and got him plumb for LBW in the 42nd over. The tail tried to wag hard as Harabhajan Singh (12) and Zaheer Khan (9) stayed on with Raina. He scored 36 runs off 39 balls in the dying overs, taking India to a competitive 260 for 9 in fifty overs. Meanwhile Riaz completed his maiden five wicket haul in ODIs and finished with 5 for 46 off his ten overs.
© Cricket World 2011