How can you win a one day international if you field like school boys and drop 6 catches? don't plan your simple chase on a demonless pitch with electric outfield and make poor bowling changes? against second best team in the world on their home turf? you can't and today, Pakistan didn't, giving arch rivals India an almost free ticket to world cup 2011 final. I may not please some readers when I say this but Pakistan played this semi final match like they were desperate to lose and they achieved their goal..
This match, the new most watched ODI in history of cricket (exceeding India v England tied game earlier in the tournament), started tilted towards home team who got lucky with coin toss and captain MS Dhoni had no hesitations electing to bat first. Half an hour later, Virendra Sehwag was all over Umar Gul, even hitting him 21 runs off an over, taking India off to a rocket start. Unlike his usual careless attitute, Sehwag seemed hungry to build an innings to remember but skidding Wahab Riaz found his rhythm straight away and trapped his leg in front of wicket at 6th over mark to draw first blood for visitors and silent Mohali crowd. Sachin Tendulkar, who was content to rotate the strike, took and entertained the spectators but introduction of Saeed Ajmal bamboozled him. Sachin failed to differentiate between quick turners & doosras from Ajmal and was given lbw by umpire Simon Gould (review saved him) before a frame saved him from getting stumped off very next ball. Pakistan dropped Indian batting artist four times after that great escape (Misbah-ul-Haq, Younus Khan & Akmal brothers were culprits) which certainly was a lucky charm but Tendulkar, a gentleman that he is, lost his concentration. He scratched on for sake of his team but he didn't want to make this his 100th international century and Afridi finally held onto a catch off Ajmal when he was on 85.
Riaz came back for his second spell, clocked 149kmph and found reverse swing at the 26th over mark to claim Virat Kohli and Yuvraj Singh back to back to pegg Indians back but strangly, captain Afridi took him off attack in just two overs! Captain MS Dhoni blocked for a while but it was upto Suresh Raina to make sure Indians avoided another collapse and played out their quota of overs.
Chasing a target in semifinal is never easy but both openers = Kamran Akmal & Mohammad Hafeez struck the ball nicely untill Akmal mistimed a catch to Yuvraj Singh at backward point and Hafeez tried a suicidal scoop shot. Young Asad Shafiq took his time to get set and just when runs started to flow off his bat, a Yuvraj delivery crashed onto his stumps and then Younus Khan's dismissal detoriated situation even further.
Misbah-ul-Haq made sure asking runrate crossed achieveable mark and then accelerated his innings to a respectable strike rate enough that no one blames him for destroying the chase in the middle order.
India v Pakistan in world cup
This was the 5th encounter between arch rivals in cricket's biggest tournament and India now have all of them. Sachin Tendulkar has played all of them and he was man of the match.
Scorecard : India v Pakistan, semi final, world cup 2011, Mohali, 30 March