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India versus Pakistan - the ultimate rivalry resumes!

SENIOR ANALYST
Preview 26 Dec 2012, 21:08 IST
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“Welcome to the match between India and Pakistan; the mother and father of all battles, resumes after a long time” –The whole stadium erupted on hearing it, for these are the words that every Indian cricket fan wishes to hear. But it has been long since India contested Pakistan in a bilateral series and that made this contest all the more interesting. The series has a lot riding on it after the defeats against England and the early ouster from the World T20. Indian cricket has been facing a lot of flak for the recent shoddy performances and it is one chance for them to redeem themselves.

Indian cricketer Ishant Sharma delivers

The battle lines were drawn and Pakistan drew first blood by defeating arch-rivals India in the first T20 of the two match series and set the tone for the upcoming match and the ODI series as well. Indian fans won’t mind if they go down to England and Australia 0-8, but against Pakistan, it is “do or die!” They have always gotten the better of us in the past, and being our warring neighbors hasn’t helped their cause either. The rivalry is getting bigger with every series, more so after the losses against us in the Asia cup and the World T20.

The first match was a disaster for India with our batsman falling like a pack of well shuffled cards against the Pakistan bowlers, who blew a storm strong enough to rattle our defenses. India got off to a steady start, not losing a wicket in the first ten overs, pressurizing the Pakistani bowlers by going after them. Gambhir’s shoddy performance was swept under the rug by Ajinkya Rahane who seemed at ease, even when facing the Pakistani veterans. But his wicket off Shahid Afridi started the slide, and the wickets started falling, much to our dismay. No batsman was sturdy enough to hold his fort, falling cheaply to the marauding Pakistanis. India stuttered and stumbled to reach 133 at the end of the innings, which was not even a par score in Bangalore.

Pakistan’s task was relatively easier thanks to excellent bowling performances, and it was only how, and not when, Pakistan was going to chase the total down. Nasir Jamshed and Ahmed Shehzad opened the innings, and both had made their mark as good T20 players. It was all but over for India, knowing that Pakistan were well prepared for this tour, having a mix of youngsters and experienced players to get them home safely.

But India had their own trump card in the form of a little known bowler from Uttar Pradesh, who spoiled the party for the Pakistanis by picking up three wickets for just nine runs in four overs. His spell ensured that India were still in the hunt after eight overs. But skipper Mohammed Hafeez and “I-perform-only-against-India” Shoaib Malik had different plans. They built their innings slowly, without taking too many risks.

They consolidated their positions before going after the part timers. Virat Kohli was taken to the cleaners, giving away more than twenty runs in two overs before Yuvraj and Jadeja claimed their chances to be thrashed. Hafeez especially tore into the Indian bowling like a hungry lion, timing the ball to perfection while Malik played the role of an anchor. When it’s India and Pakistan, “impossible is nothing!” The match had yet another dramatic turn around, when all seemed over for India, in the form of a resurgent Ishant Sharma. He picked up the wicket of a well set Hafeez, giving away only two runs in the over and bowled India back into the match.

India needed to defend ten runs in the last over, and Dhoni, not having any other viable option, threw the ball to Jadeja who made a mess of things by letting Malik hit a huge six, ending the match on his own terms. It was a nail biting encounter and had us all on the edge of our seats for the major part of the second innings. Like a steeply curvaceous mountain that has dangerous U-bends,, the match took us all on a ride, and people who took a guess on the outcome were ridiculed thoroughly, for it was an unpredictable result.

The series has started on an intriguing note, with Pakistan getting the better of us. India will have to face the music if they do not draw the series, and win the ODI’s and Dhoni’s captaincy would be in deeper trouble if the above mentioned does not happen by the end of the series. It’s India versus Pakistan folks! Sit back, relax and enjoy!

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