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.