Younis guides Pakistan home

Younis Khan was the top-scorer with an unbeaten 71 as Pakistan overhauled India’s total of 197 with six wickets and an over to spare in the first ODI at Abu Dhabi. After Shoaib Malik’s 3-40 restricted India to the small total on a pitch that can’t be described as helpful to batsmen, the Pakistani batsmen played patiently and made the most of the overs they had to reach the total, keeping wickets in hand on the way to taking a 1-0 lead in the series.

After Rana Naved-ul-Hasan made the first breakthrough with the score at 25, the wicket of young opener Robin Uthappa caught by Mohammad Yousuf, it was two run outs that can’t at all be blamed on the sluggish pitch that put India on the back foot early. Between the two Rao Iftikhar Anjum, who had bowled economically without much luck beforehand, got the well-deserved wicket of the previously in-form Yuvraj Singh caught behind for 7 and when Irfan Pathan was the second run-out victim the score was 72-4.

Suresh Raina and Venugopal Rao set about getting the innings back on track, and did an excellent job of it. The two put on 64 runs at a sensible rate before Shahid Afridi broke the partnership with the wicket of Raina for 40, caught by Iftikhar Anjum to reduce the score to 136-5.

From there the innings was dominated by Shoaib Malik. Although Venugopal Rao batted superbly, he was rapidly running out of partners as Malik put an end to the innings of MS Dhoni, Ajit Agarkar and Ramesh Powar. When Harbhajan Singh and S Sreesanth were victims of two more run outs, making four for the innings, India were all out for 197 from exactly 50 overs and Rao was left not out on 61.

Malik was looking to make it an excellent all-round day as he walked out to open the batting with Imran Farhat. But it wasn’t to be, scoring 12 in a partnership of 42 before being caught by Indian captain Rahul Dravid off the bowling of Sreesanth. When Farhat followed not long afterwards, clean bowled by Agarkar, it was 60-2 and India would have sensed that they had a chance of defending the total.

But Younis Khan and Inzamam-ul-Haq had other ideas. In 22 overs of patient batting they put on 86 runs, with Inzamam uncharacteristically hitting just four boundaries in his 40. Eventually India got the much-needed breakthrough when Inzamam was caught by Rao off the bowling of Powar, and the score suddenly became 149-4 when Mohammad Yousuf fell for 1. India were back in it once again.

But Kamran Akmal was able to provide the support Younis needed to get the team through to the target. The two remained undefeated, Kamran scoring 24 and Younis 71.

Although they lost just four wickets, it was far from an easy chase for the Pakistan. They used all but one of their overs in reaching the small total, which shows how well the Indians bowled and how bad the pitch was.

The win gave Pakistan a 1-0 lead, a position from which they can’t lose the series. The second and final match is played at the same ground today.

India 197
Venugopal Rao 61*, Suresh Raina 40
Shoaib Malik 3-40, Rao Iftikhar Anjum 1-24

Pakistan 201-4
Younis Khan 71*, Inzamam-ul-Haq 40
Ajit Agarkar 2-33, Ramesh Powar 1-27

Pakistan won by 6 wickets.

Cricket Web Player of the Match

Younis Khan – 71*

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