Wednesday 2 July 2008 

Younus Century Keeps Pakistan's Asia Cup Hopes Alive

A superb unbeaten Younus Khan century kept Pakistan's hopes of Asia Cup glory alive as they chased down 309 to beat India by eight wickets in their Super Four clash in Karachi.

That came after half-centuries from Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Rohit Sharma had helped India make 308 for seven.

Nasir Jamshed had to retire hurt after hitting an explosive 53 from 43 balls, before Younus Khan hit 123 not out and Misbah-ul-Haq 70 not out in an unbroken third wicket partnership of 144 to bring Pakistan home in the 46th over.

Jamshed added 56 with Salman Butt before an horrendous misunderstanding saw Butt, a five-time centurion against India in ODIs, run out for 36.

Jamshed hammered nine fours in his third half-century, his first against a top level opponent having only previously played against Bangladesh and Zimbabwe.

Younus, however, played the stabilising role for which he has become famous, hitting five fours in his own half-century and adding six more, as well as a huge six off of Piyush Chawla in his fifth ODI century.

Captain Misbah came to the crease when Mohammad Yousuf was bowled round his legs by Chawla, and hit one six and seven fours, the last of which flew through midwicket for the winning runs.

The result means that if India beat Sri Lanka tomorrow, they go through to the final, but if Sri Lanka win, then Pakistan can qualify should they beat Bangladesh comprehensively in the final match on Friday. Sri Lanka have already qualified for Sunday's final.

Earlier, half-centuries from Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Rohit Sharma helped India post an excellent score of 308 for seven.

They were given the usual flying start by Gautam Gambhir (35) and Virender Sehwag (49) before three quick wickets brought Pakistan back into the match with Abdur Rauf removing Sehwag and Suresh Raina (one) after Rao Iftikhar had had Gambhir smartly caught at cover by Shahid Afridi.

Yuvraj Singh hit a quick 37, including a huge six over midwicket as he passed 6,000 runs in ODI cricket but when he was well caught by wicket-keeper Sarfraz Ahmed off of Rao, Pakistan had reduced India to 129 for four and it was anybody's game.

Dhoni and Sharma added a priceless partnership of 112 for the fifth wicket with Dhoni contributing 76 and Sharma 58 as from a position of 153 for four at the halfway stage, they almost exactly doubled that to once again pass 300 in this tournament.

Both players hit just four fours and Sharma missed out on a career-best innings when he was caught on the pull, as was Raina, while Dhoni was struggling in the Karachi heat when he was caught by Sarfraz off another miscued horizontal bat shot.

Some late blows from Irfan Pathan, who was unbeaten on 38 from 25 balls, ensured India kept up their momentum.

The usually reliable Tanvir was taken for 87 runs from ten overs while Rao ended with three for 51 and Rauf two for 66. Saeed Ajmal, on debut, picked up one for 47 by having Yusuf Pathan caught at long off.

Shoaib Malik was not fit to play due to severe dehydration while Wahab Riaz and Mansoor Amjad were dropped, with Jamshed, Rauf and Ajmal coming into the side.

India welcomed back Irfan Pathan, fit again after a side strain with RP Singh making way as India returned to full strength with Sehwag, Chawla and Praveen Kumar also back.

© Cricket World 2008

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