India hold Pakistan in another tight finish
Yuvraj Singh’s dominant innings capped a fitting reply by India in the second T20 to sink Pakistan and level the two-match series 1-1.
It started after Pakistan won the toss and invited India in. Gautam Gambhir and Ajinkya Rahane looked more assured and took plenty in the opening overs. Gambhir (21), Rahane (28) and Virat Kohli (27) all laid the foundation for the fireworks that were to follow. The Pakistani bowlers were guilty of not adapting to the conditions and were employing similar lengths to those at the Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bangalore, in the first T20. The fizz on offer in the first game was missing from the Sardar Patel strip and needless to say, the batsmen got it in the middle most of the time.
And Yuvraj Singh made full use of it. He not only blunted an off-colour Shahid Afridi but also took apart Pakistan’s main man, Saeed Ajmal. He finally departed on 72 from 36 balls, his 97-run partnership with captain MS Dhoni propelling India to 192/2 in their 20 overs.
Umar Gul picked up four wickets but leaked 37 from his quota. Mohammad Irfan, without a doubt, was the pick with 4-20-0. Sohail Tanvir went for plenty and the idea behind his selection ahead of Junaid Khan seems a little baffling. Mohammad Hafeez’s decision to bowl only one over was as surprising and why he is unwilling to bring himself on, after taking the reins of the T20 squad, is anyone’s guess.
Pakistan’s captain made up for it when he came out to bat, though, but needed some cool-headed support from his partners as he kicked on at breakneck speed. His 55 from 26, the second fastest fifty for Pakistan in T20s, coupled with his effort in the first match, ought to put a cork into all the ‘experts’ who were all to0 willing to discredit his usefulness as a batsman in the shortest form. Nasir Jamshed (41), Ahmed Shehzad (31) and Umar Akmal (24) all played valuable hands but got out to ordinary shots.
Should the in-form and now confident Shoaib Malik have gone in ahead of Umar Akmal at number 3? It was a tactical move that could have been employed but Hafeez in the post-match conference said the team wanted Umar to get the maximum number of balls. Afridi hit a four and a six, in what seemed like his first shots to the boundary in quite a while, but perished to a full-toss that maybe five years ago would have landed in the lap of a local fan.
It was another tug-of-war and Ashoke Dinda’s final couple of overs were perhaps the deciding factor. With Pakistan requiring 47 from 24, he returned second-spell figures of 2-12-3 and ensured India got over the line with some comfort in the end.
The teams, after what seemed like an exhausting two encounters will now head to Chennai to play the first ODI on December 30.