Cool Youhana guides Pakistan home

Monday, September 20 2004

Pakistan were the victors of the much touted quarter-final battle against their Asian neighbours India in the 2004 Champions Trophy. The two teams entered the match with comfortable wins against Kenya at their backs and a legacy of fantastic cricket to live up to. Although Pakistan had to chase just 201 runs for victory, India fought back well enough that the game certainly did not disappoint.

Indeed, the run chase was not as easy as an Afridi late innings blitz made it look. Entering in the tricky spot of 152/6 with 49 needed from 54 balls, Afridi was faced up with Irfan Pathan, who returned for a second spell after 7-0-11-3 in his first. The powerful right-hander wasted no time in destroying those fine figures by hooking the first ball he saw for six and then smacking the second over longon for an even more impressive one. Altogether Afridi scored 25 from only 12 balls until he holed out to Sehwag in the deep to give Yuvraj Singh his first wicket and India some hope.

Back to the start, when the game began with Pakistan captain Inzamam-ul-Haq winning the toss and choosing to bowl first following a 15-minute delay to the start. Sourav Ganguly's subsequent pre-match statements that India would have batted first regardless were quickly forgotten, as the man himself was first out, 5 balls into the game for a duck. The dismissal was a loose stroke outside offstump against Mohammad Sami and the start for India poor - 1/1.

Things would slump from poor to abysmal within 10 overs as India slipped to 28/3 and VVS Laxman (3) and Virender Sehwag joined their captain back in the hut. The pair were victims of inexperienced Naved-ul-Hasan, who claimed career-best figures of 4/25 in his 6th One Day International. The in-form Mohammad Kaif and dependable Rahul Dravid repaired matters to 73, then Shoaib Akhtar put Pakistan back on top.

Proclaimed by many as the fastest bowler in the world, Akhtar was sharp and consistent on the day and started his wicket-taking with that of Kaif for 27 and then Yuvraj Singh without scoring, within 4 balls of each other. Both batsmen were caught behind due somewhat injudicious shots outside offstump. Akhtar went on to take 4/36 but those two were perhaps his most crucial and India fell further to 73/5.

Rohan Gavaskar (13) joined Dravid and was involved in a useful partnership of 33, but was ultimately Razzaq's only wicket of the day (1/27). At 106/6, Ajit Agarkar took his guard at the wicket and the nation's hopes were that he would stake some claim on the title of 'allrounder' which has been so consistently elusive throughout his international career. To the pleasure of many, he did just that. A pulled six over midwicket sent Afridi out of the attack in the late overs and Agarkar hit 3 fours in addition during a crucial 50-ball 47.

With Dravid, Agarkar added 82 runs until his partner was surprised by a Naved-ul-Hasan short ball and popped a return catch. ICC Test Player of the Year, Dravid was the saviour of the Indian innings, batting for over 2 1/2 hours, facing 108 balls and scoring a tempered 67. He collected only 4 boundaries in the effort, but rotated the strike well enough to keep India in the hunt. Dravid's dismissal at 188/7 gave way to the Indian tail end and Pakistan cleaned up with a ball to spare - 200 all out.

Setting out to chase the modest total, Pakistan started as favourites, until that someone recalled that Pakistan versus India is no ordinary match. Indeed, Pathan quickly ensured there would be clutch cricket to the very end when he produced an away-swinger to opener Imran Farhat's offdriving intent and had him caught behind without scoring. Like the Indian innings, Pakistan started at 1/1 in the 1st over. The similarities continued when Shoaib Malik (5) flashed at Pathan outside offstump and was caught behind - 10/2 - the same as India was.

India lost their 3rd wicket at 28, but Pakistan would fall a run short. It was 27/3 following Yasir Hameed's top-edged hook that was caught at fine leg by Ashish Nehra. Captain Inzamam-ul-Haq started his innings needing 23 runs to become the second player in ODI history score to 10,000 career runs, but suddenly found himself with a lot more to aim for and his team in trouble.

Inzamam and Yousuf Youhana laid the careful groundwork for Pakistan's eventual triumph and carried the score to 102 when the former was the 4th wicket down. Agarkar was the successful bowler and Inzamam-ul-Haq was caught behind for 41. It was 25 runs later that Razzaq departed as well, bowled by Sehwag for 9 off 21 balls. Now it seemed that whatever Pakistan got out of the game would be off Youhana's blade.

Former captain, Moin Khan assisted in another 25 runs being added, but was the 6th man down with a brilliant flying Yuvraj Singh to blame. The top fielder took a magnificent reaction catch at backward point to give Nehra his first and only wicket and get India's hopes back alive. Enter Shahid Afridi. From the start Afridi showed his intent by blasting his first delivery on the bounce to midoff and setting off for a suicidal single, but getting home as Agarkar's throw missed the stumps at the non-striker's end.

By the time Afridi's party was done, Pakistan were back on top but all was left to Youhana once more. The right-hander had long passed his half-century milestone and was charged with the responsibility of guiding the tail to the target, cramp and all. Youhana earlier showed signs of cramping whilst executing shots against Harbhajan Singh and eventually asked for and received a runner.

Nehra returned to bowl the penultimate over and India needed 3 wickets for victory whilst Pakistan searched for 7 more runs. By the end of the over Pakistan had drawn level with the Indian 200, but there was excitement in finding it, including an overthrow that allowed Youhana to keep the strike midway through the over.

Entrusted with the final over, Yuvraj Singh was met with defence from Man of the Match Yousuf Youhana first up. The next ball saw a cut shot that ultimately produced the winning run, but first endured an LBW shout for the bat/pad of the situation. Pakistan, victors by 3 wickets, now advance to play the West Indies in the tournament semi-final.

Match Summary:

India innings 200 all out (49.5 overs)
(R Dravid 67 [108], AB Agarkar 47 [50], M Kaif 27 [59])
(Naved-ul-Hasan 4/25, Shoaib Akhtar 4/36)

Pakistan innings 201/7 (49.2 overs)
(Yousuf Youhana 81 not out [114], Inzamam-ul-Haq 41 [79], Shahid Afridi 25 [12])
(IK Pathan 3/34 [9], Yuvraj Singh 1/6 [2.2])

Result: Pakistan won by 3 wickets and advance to semi-final
Man of the Match: Yousuf Youhana (Pak)

Posted by Liam