South Asia's bitter rivals Pakistan and India are meeting again on the cricket ground, marking a gradual thaw in their decades-old rivalry. The first bilateral series between India and Pakistan since November 2007, comprising two Twenty20 matches and three one-day internationals, begins Christmas Day with a Twenty20 match in the southern Indian city of Bangalore. Thousands of cricket fans began lining up outside Bangalore's massive Chinnaswamy Stadium nearly five hours before the match was to begin later today.
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Pakistan have pulled off a dramatic win in the first T20, Malik playing a great knock, 57 off 50 balls, guided Pakistan home with two balls to spare! India did really well after being restricted to 133/9 in 2o overs and pegging Pakistan back to 3-12 when the chase was on. Great debut for Bhuvneshwar Kumar, picking up 4-9-3. Dhoni banked heavily on his part-timers, Kohli, Jadeja and Yuvraj and they went for plenty. Could it have been different had Ishant Sharma bowled the last over? Great response from Hafeez to all his critics who have asked him to drop then the order because he is a 'nudger'. Well he 'nudged' his way to 61 from 44 balls and gave the Pakistan order strength with his positive game right through. Pakistan's bowlers, too, did what was required of them after initially leaking 75 from the first 10 overs. Mohammad Irfan, who looked completely out of sorts against England on his debut, was the surprise package, consistently bowling in the high 140s and using all of his 7-foot-frame. Ajmal, as usual, put the breaks and picked up 2-25 from his four overs. Gul, without a doubt, was the star! After going for plenty in his first over, he produced a magical next couple to flatten India's quest for something in the range of 160-170. He finished with 3-21. The two teams now head to Ahmedabad for the second T20.
All that drama sees Pakistan mess it up a little, Akmal edges one to his friend Ishant Sharma at third man! Pakistan need 10 off the last over! Afridi in, what can he do?
Dramatic last over from Sharma, a heated exchange between Kamran Akmal and Ishant Sharm and the two restrained by players and officials! 14 off two overs.
Malik follows Hafeez, but wait a minute! It's a no-ball, second shorter one in the over and that was over the batsman's head. Malik survives! Will he hang on and guide Pakistan home now!
Short and wide and Hafeez guides Sharma into the hands of third-man. For a moment it seemed as if it was going to go all the way! Big wicket, anything can happen still. Great knock by Hafeez under pressure, 61 off 44 balls.
Malik attempts another awkward pull and ends up edging Dinda over the head of Dhoni! 16 off 18 needed.
Another good over for Pakistan, Hafeez first plays a pull towards long on and then plays an exquisite drive over the head off mid-off for two boundaries, 11 from the over. 22 off 22 needed.
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Malik slams Jadeja straight over his head for a another six! Hafeez follows it up with a similar shot! Big, big over for Pakistan, 16 runs from it! 35 off 30 balls now. Only a clear head needed now. Ishant Sharma back into the attack. 99/3 in 15 overs.
Yuvraj is short again and Hafeez makes him pay. That's a big six over long on, 83/3 in 14 overs, Hafeez 43 off 37, Malik 30 off 30. Pakistan are sensible here but need to keep this going.
Another left-arm spinner, Ravindra Jadeja now comes into the attack. Malik continues his run against India, 28 off 28 balls now. Can these two see this one out? 72/3 in 13 overs. 63 needed.
Malik launches Yuvraj for SIX over long, that was too short! Malik lost his balance but made great contact! 68/3 in 12 overs. Pakistan need 66 from 48 balls.
A productive over for Pakistan, Hafeez picks up Kohli for two boundaries, risky but fruitful! Pakistan 58/3 in 11 overs.
Pakistan 41/3 in 9 overs. 93 needed in 11 overs. Kamran Akmal, Shahid Afridi and Sohail Tanvir to come. And Yuvraj is into the attack. He will keep it wicket-to-wicket and throw it up. Pakistan have a tendency to fudge it up against left-armers, Hafeez and Malik should try to just keep it going until the 15th over.
Shoaib Malik gets a lucky boundary, inside edge from Sharma's steepler goes towards the fine leg boundary. 33/3 in 8 overs. Kohli now into the attack now, smart move by Dhoni. Kohli will get it to swing with his medium pacers, and lets not forget India's strike-weapon Yuvraj Singh is yet to be used.
Kumar finishes with astonishing figures of 4-9-3. Ishant Sharma follows it up with a great first over and Pakistan 25/3 in 7 overs. It will, as always, be an uphill task for Hafeez's men! Required run-rate upto 8.5 now!
Hafeez picks Ashok Dinda off for a boundary through midwicket, much-needed that. India have given the perfect reply to Pakistan's effort with the ball, and for the Pakistan fans it seems it will be another nerve-wracking fixture. If only they could replicate their bowling prowess and bring some sort of stability in the batting department. Pakistan 20/3 in 5 overs.
Pakistan 12/3 as Kumar gets Umar Akmal! What a beauty that was! It was a repeat of the Jamshed dismissal, and Kumar got one to jag into the right-hander this time! India well and truly in control!
Kumar picks up another one! Gets one to move away from Shehzad, inviting the drive but the batsman manages only an edge to Dhoni. Pakistan in trouble already!
And Kumar goes right through Jamshed! Keeps it around off stump the whole over and last one comes back in! The worst possible start for Pakistan, and it is no wonder India will fancy this! Hafeez in now.
Jamshed and Shehzad it is and debutant Bhuvneshwar Kumar starts off the proceedings.
Sohail Tanvir bowls the last over, 7 runs from it as India post 133 in 20 overs. That caps a great comeback by Pakistan, pulling India back from 103/3 and completely squeezing them. Gul picked 3-21 and Ajmal 2-25 and and the end result can definitely be termed a great performance by Pakistan. For India Gambhi top scored with 43 while Rahane notched up 42. For Pakistan the task is now a lot easier than it seemed an hour ago but India will feel confident with the total they have managed. It'll be interesting to see whether Pakistan open with the Nasir Jamshed-Mohammad Hafeez combo or get Kamran Akmal up the order. It has to be Ahmed Shehzad and Jamshed, though and Hafeez should ideally come a little further down the order.
Gul takes care of Ishant Sharma first ball, the yorker crashing into the stumps to leave India reeling. Gul has turned it on completely! Misses his hattrick, just a little too full! India 125/9 in 18.5! It seems Gul needs one over to just warm up and get spanked a little before he gets going! India 126/9 in 19.
India suffer another blow, Gul gets one to zip through off a length and Jadeja edges it to Kamran Akmal who has so far had an excellent game! 124/8 in 18.1
Rohit Sharma follows Raina the next ball. A great throw from long off finds him well short of his ground. Dhoni's main man Ravindra Jadeja is the new man. 124/7 in 18.
Ajmal goes through Raina, slowed it down in pace and the batsman was way too early in that shot. India 122/6 now and what looked like an imminent total of 180 will now be cut down by at least 30 runs it seems.
121/5 in 17 overs. Gul comes back to his senses and delivers a 6-run over. He has two left in the bank and Tanvir has one.
Gul back into the attack and he gets the dangerous Yuvraj! It wasn't the best of balls, a half-tracker that the batsman got high on the bat and pulled into the hands of Umar Akmal at deep midwicket!
Pakistan have hit back and put the brakes on India somewhat. The hosts will be hoping now that Yuvraj and Suresh Raina can end with a bang. 115/4 in 16 overs.
108/4 in 15.1. Dhoni now goes, Ajmal's straighter one keeps low and just kisses the off stump. The decision is referred and it takes about 5 replays to confirm that Dhoni was in fact bowled.
Irfan back into the attack, starts off with two that take off from a length and angling away! Kohli in a spot of bother! Irfan gets his man from the third delivery, similar ball but Kohli tries to hoick it over midwicket but ends up getting a faint under edge to the keeper. MS Dhoni is the new batsman. First wicket for Irfan in T20s, replays show that was actually a clever change of pace from the bowler that Kohli completely misjudged.
Yuvraj looking menacing and looks like it has rubbed off onto Kohli who smashes Hafeez to the midwicket boundary! 103/2 in 14 overs India, and they look set for anything in the range of 160-180. Hafeez had spoken about keeping India on the back foot with pace, but at the moment not much going Pakistan's way.
Pakistan's bowling coach Mohammad Akram being interviewed on the sidelines, all praise for the hospitality accorded to the Pakistan team. But right in the middle of that a flat throw by from square-leg accounts for Gambhir! Another big one for Pakistan, India now 90/2 in 12.4. Yuvraj Singh in now and he smashed Afridi for a HUGE six off the first delivery that he faces! What a shot!
Virat Kohli is the new man as Hafeez finally comes onto bowl. It'll be interesting to see whether Kohli keeps up the hammering. Gambhir now looking to smash everything that comes his way.
Finally, a breakthrough for Pakistan! Afridi throws it up in the air and Rahane makes good connection but the ball goes straight into the palms of Umar Akmal at long off. This was much-needed by Pakistan, 78/1 in 11.
Hafeez's men feeling the heat here, lots of miss-fields, Ajmal bowling way too short and India racing away to 75 in 10 overs. Maybe time for Hafeez to have a bowl himself, he has been successful against Gambhir previously, no harm in trying with the way things are going.
Ajmal offers a gift to Rahane and the batsman graciously accepts for a big six over extra cover. Eight runs from that Ajmal over and Shahid Afridi now into the attack. He gets similar treatment from the batsmen and concedes 10 from his first over. India 68/0 in 9.
India going at a good rate here, end the power play at 37/0 in 6. Gul replaces Irfan and is greeted by Rahane with a four over the head of mid-off. It is pretty easy for the batsmen so far this pitch, there's no swing on offer and though the lines have been decent by the Pakistani fast bowlers, Gambhir and Rahane have hardly been troubled. Gambhir rounds off Gul's first over with a spanking pull shot over the midwicket boundary for six. India 50/0 in 7. Saeed Ajmal now into the attack.
Rahane and Gambhir opening up here after the early jitters, picking boundaries off both Tanvir and Irfan. 34/0 in 5.
Sohail Tanvir also ends a decent over, conceding 4 from his over. Irfan comes back, falls awkwardly in his follow through but hurrying the batsmen yet again. Rahane picks up a boundary of the last ball of the over to take India to 17/o in 3 overs.
The 7ft 1in Mohammad Irfan starts off the proceeding and bowls his couple of deliveries in the high 140 kph. Gautam Gambhir and Ajinkya Rahane circumspect but manage to pick up some runs. 6/0 in the first over as Irfans debut T20 over comes to an end.
By Mohandas Menon
India-Pakistan in T20Is - head to head
Match results: 1. at Durban 14-9-2007: Scores tied (India won bowl-out) 2. at Jo'burg 24-9-2007: India won by 5 runs 3. at ColomboRPS 30-9-2012: India won by 8 wkts
Result summary: Mts Ind Pak NR in Ind 0 0 0 0 in Pak 0 0 0 0 neutral 3 3 0 0 =============================== Overall 3 3 0 0
Note: India's 3 wins includes a tie game at Durban in 2007 (India won a bowl-out)
Highest team totals: for Ind: 157-5 (20 ov) at Jo'burg, 24-9-2007 for Pak: 152-10 (19.3 ov) at Jo'burg, 24-9-2007
Lowest team totals: for Ind: 141-9 (20 ov) at Durban, 14-9-2007 for Pak: 128-10 (19.4 ov) at ColomboRPS, 30-9-2012
Highest individual scores: for Ind: 78* by Virat Kohli at ColomboRPS, 30-9-2012 for Pak: 53 by Misbah-ul-Haq art Durban, 14-9-2007
Best bowling: for Ind: 3/16 by Irfan Pathan at Jo'burg, 24-9-2007 for Pak: 4/18 by Mohd Asif at Durban, 14-9-2007
Pakistan have won the toss and decided to bowl first, the decision by Mohammad Hafeez perhaps prompted by changing conditions later on in the day.
Pakistan Mohammad Hafeez*, Ahmed Shehzad, Nasir Jamshed, Kamran Akmal†, Umar Akmal, Shoaib Malik, Shahid Afridi, Sohail Tanvir, Umar Gul, Saeed Ajmal, Mohammad Irfan
India G Gambhir, AM Rahane, V Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, SK Raina, RG Sharma, MS Dhoni*†, RA Jadeja, B Kumar, I Sharma, AB Dinda