Cricket World Rewind: #OnThisDay - Shoaib Malik guides Pakistan to thrilling Asia Cup win over India with career-best 143
25 July, 2004 - Alongside the rivalry between England and Australia, the competition between India and Pakistan on the cricket field is as good as the spectacle gets.
The two teams have produced some one-sided blobs over the recent past but there was always cut-throat competition between the neighbours in the last decade of the 20th century and the beginning years of this one. More often than not, it was the Asia Cup which provided the stage for this fierce battle, apart from the ICC events.
Alongside India and Pakistan, Bangladesh, Hong Kong, Sri Lanka and United Arab Emirates participated in the 2004 Asia Cup held in Sri Lanka. Pakistan began the tournament on a high and registered comfortable victories against Bangladesh and Hong Kong by 76 runs and 173 runs respectively. The team tumbled by 7 wickets in the third match against Sri Lanka and came into the encounter against India, the 10th match of the Asia Cup, in a must win scenario.
India, on the other hand, had won all their three games before the marquee clash against Pakistan. They began their campaign with a 116-run victory over United Arab Emirates and then registered a 12-run win against Sri Lanka and a 8-wicket victory against Bangladesh.
However, soon after the clash began, it became clear that India would not be having it easy in this game. Batting first, Pakistan opener Imran Nazir was dismissed on the last ball of the first over by Irfan Pathan.
Yasir Hameed and Shoaib Malik then had a 100+ partnership, with Kumble ending Hameed's stay at the crease. Inzamam-ul-Haq then threatened to play another of his languid masterpieces as he was part of a 66-run stand with Shoaib Malik but perished in an attempt to sweep Yuvraj Singh.
Shoaib Malik, despite being a bit tentative to begin with, gradually settled into his work and kept the scoreboard ticking at more than the normal pace. He was a bit lucky during his innings and was dropped twice by Virender Sehwag, Rahul Dravid missed a regulation stumping, while the third umpire gave him the benefit of doubt on a run-out call when the stylish right-hander was on 99.
Malik carted 18 fours and 1 six in his 197-minute stay at the crease. He was finally caught by Mohammad Kaif at long-on off the bowling of Sachin Tendulkar. By that time, Malik had already scored 143 runs, his highest ODI score and had guided Pakistan towards the 300-run mark.
The team achieved that with a few lusty blows from Abdul Razzak towards the end. Irfan Pathan took three wickets for India and was assisted by Sachin Tendulkar who also bagged three from just five overs. But, it was Lakshmipathy Balaji's off-day which cost India. The bowler conceded 61 runs from his 7 overs, going at an economy of 8.71 as Pakistan claimed the momentum which they rode towards the latter half of their innings.
After Virender Sehwag was dismissed early in the chase, Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly raised Indian hopes with a 50+ partnership. After negotiating Shoaib Akhtar's fiery opening spell, Ganguly was bowled by Mohammad Sami off his thigh pad.
India were jolted when Yuvraj Singh was dismissed after getting a good start and Sachin Tendulkar pulled a ball straight into the hands of mid-wicket. However, a 38-run hand from Irfan Pathan and a couple of frenzied byes in the last over meant that India reached the 241-run mark and did not concede the bonus point to Pakistan despite an embarrassing loss.
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