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Wednesday 14 January 2015

Ind v Pak (Group Match, Centurion, World Cup 2003)

Venue: Supersport Park, Centurion, SA

Huge game!!
Traditional rivals at it again ... in a #WorldCup match.
Build up to this game was big. Pakistan bowling vs India batting.
It was predicted that if Pak batting clicks, they win. If Ind bowling clicks, they win. Simple as that.
But, Ind v Pak matches are never simple. right?

This match was more important for Pakistan than India because their victory/loss here would determine their slim chances to proceed ahead in the tournament. India was sitting in a better position but a win here would ensure their safe passage to the next phase.

Many battles were being looked forward to. Shoaib v Sachin, Waqar v Sehwag, Zaheer v Anwar, Kumble v Inzamam. It reached a feverish state prior to the game. Everyone just wanted the game to start ..... rather explode!!

On a wonderful Centurion morning, #WasimAkram, Pakistan captain, won the toss and elected to bat first. A good decision considering the pressure involved. #Saeed Anwar and #TaufeeqUmar started the Pak innings steadily. Mixing caution and aggression, they touched fifty under 10 overs without any damage done. Then #ZaheerKhan struck, uprooting Taufeeq stumps. First blood for Ind. #AbdulRazzaq, promoted up the order, to up the ante didnt stay for too long edging one behind off Nehra for 12. 90 for 2.

In walked #InzamamUlHaq, the best best Pakistan batsman. With Anwar in full flow by then, Pak would have imagined both of them to build a big partnership, Instead, the inevitable happened!! Inzy was run out (any surprises there?). A complete miscommunication and poor running cost him dearly. His reaction aftter the dismissal said everything. Frustration, disappointment and anger .. all in one. Indians were delighted. Pak 98 for 3.

#YousufYouhana joined Anwar and together they started their repair work. Answar crossed his individual fifty and Youhana was just about to let loose when #JavagalSrinath struck getting him to hit one down Zaheer's throat.  Pak 171 for 4.

Saeed Anwar completed a beautifully crafted century shortly after. he had played some delightful strokes in his innings holding one end strongly. Just as he was about to open up, #AshishNehra castled him. Pak 195 for 5. In spot of bother.

The extremely unreliable #ShaahidAfridi, follwed suit leaving Pak struggling to up the tempo in the end overs. Pak 208 for 6.

#RashidLatif though had different ideas. He unleashed his dogged style of batting and pushed the scoring quickly along with #YounisKhan. Both pushed the score past 250 before Younis was caught behind off Zaheer. Pak 256 for 7.

In walked Pak captain, #WasimAkram. He took charge and unleased some lusty blows in the final over to give the Pak total a mighty look. At the end of their innings, Pak 273 for 7. A good score considering the pressure and tension of an Ind v Pak game.

Can India pull this off? or Pak will walk away with an easy win?

In walked #SachinTendulkar and #VirenderSehwag to open Ind innings. The best opening pair vs the best pace attack on display (Shoaib, Waqar and Wasim). A contest was on the hands. Both batsmen knowing the required rate was high started pushing score quickly. Sachin was extremely severe on anything short of length. His #uppercut six of Shoaib is part of cricketing folklore now. What an amazing shot. The commentators were spell bound, the spectators were wow and Pak bowlers zapped by this onslaught. #WaqarYounis met the same fate the following over. 50 of the team was brought up in 5 overs. Tremendous start!

In desperate search for wickets, Waqar finally broke through Sehwag getting him to hit a full-length delivery to short cover. He trapped Ind captain #SouravGanguly #lbw the very next ball. Great fightback. Ind 53 for 2.

India promoted #MohamadKaif to number 4 to stem the rot and not risk another key wicket. A great decision since he played perfect foil to Sachin's aggression. At the other end, Sachin was most lucky to be dropped by Razzaq off Wasim. he continued to attack the Pak bowling unit though. 

His assault on Wasim and Afridi derailed the Pak camp completely. The genius at work showed his team how to do it? However due to the #Centurion heat, he developed cramps in legs and asked for a runner, Sehwag it was. His concentration seemed to have been lost and he fell to a Shoaib short delivery. What an innings he had played? 98 for 75 deliveries. A dream effort and one of the greatest ODI knocks ever seen. Ind 177 for 4.

The impact of Sachin's assault on Pak bowlers was such that the run pressure was off. All it now needed was someone to stay put and complete the chase. With #RahulDravid and #YuvrajSingh the crease, winning the game was no biog deal. Yuvraj played his usual aggressive stuff while Dravid supported him beautifully. India crossed the line with ease. A comfortable 6 wicket victory.

#RobinJackman, the presentor for Man of the Match, said "Thank you Sachin for such a wonderful innnings. Take a bow".

With this win, India was more or less assured of the next phase (#SuperSixes) while pakistan had to work their way around the group to move ahead.
MOM: Sachin Tendulkar

Watch the video highlights of this game here:

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