Arjun Raja is a NRIOL featured sports columnist. To read about Arjun Raja, please Know more.
The Indians, who were soundly thrashed in the first match of the Coca-Cola Trophy-2000, returned to their best form with a stunning victory over arch rivals Pakistan in a very crucial game as far as the Indians were concerned.
Pakistan, not very certain of their batting strength won the toss and decided to bat, hoping that the batsmen would give the bowlers a total to defend.
That wasn't to be as both Prasad and Agarkar bowled beautifully up-front reducing Pakistan to 5 for 2 in the third over.
Newcomer to the international scene Imran Nazir played extremely sensibly never allowing the bowlers to get on top. He also lofted Kumble for six and was out with the score on 62 . He scored 43 of them.
Yousuf Youhana joined Inzamam at that stage and they took the score to 108 for 3 when Inzamam struck! He didn't respond to a run, Youhana was run-out and he himself followed next ball. 108 for 5 in 29 overs and India were back in the game.
The Pakistani tail didn't wag as it usually does especially against India and they were finally dismissed for 145.
All the Indian bowlers bowled well, very well disciplined and the results showed....
The target was a small one but it still required disciplined batting. The Pakistani bowling attack was a dangerous one with any bowler capable of winning the match on his own.
India was soon 41 for 2 with both the openers in the pavilion. Saurav guide Akram into keeper Moin's gloves and Sachin was beaten for pace by Shoaib Akhter and leg before for 12.
Rahul Dravid and Azharuddin had a lot of time and overs to play with and realising that Shoaib was on fire and getting incredible reverse swing at top speed to boot, they sensibly played out his first spell. The runs began flowing as they got set and soon Azhar was back to his magical self, finding the gaps with ease to bring India right back into the game.
During the course of his spell Shoaib bowled the second fastest ball recorded in cricket history at 155.3 kph....mind boggling indeed.
Rahul provided great support and crucially made sure Jadeja and Robin were not exposed to a fired up Pakistani pace attack. The result was that the score moved along to 111, a partnership of 70 before Rahul spooned a catch to short cover, a poor shot after concentrating so hard.
Azhar in the meantime completed a wonderful comeback with a match winning half century- his second fifty in 2 games against Pakistan following his 67 in 1999 World Cup game at Old Trafford. It was a wonderfully controlled innings under pressure and will surely shut the mouth of all those who claim that he does not play for the country.
The only complaint against anybody on the day could be the way the match was finished off by Jadeja and Robin who wasted atleast 4 overs, just plodding around when they should have had it at the back of their minds that the net run rate could come into play at the end of the league stage to decide the finalists.
All in all a satisfactory day at the office for India after the disastrous day against SA and the Indian team able to put side such a poor performance and lift themselves up is a good sign, and credit must go to skipper Ganguly for that.
Pakistan 146 all out in 45.3 overs
Imran Nazir 43, Inzamam 41.
Prasad 2 for 29, Joshi 2 for 29 and Kumble 2 for 26.
India 148 for 5 in 43.3 overs
Azhar 54, Rahul 26, Saurav 25.
India won by 5 wickets! Read more
- Arjun Raja in Dubai, UAE
March 25, 2000
The views of this column are the author's own, and do not necessarily represent the views of NRI Online.For a listing of past columns by Arjun Raja, please Know more