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A combination of some great fielding and an inspired spell by Umar Gul (3-21), who went for plenty in his first over, meant the Indian innings came to a crashing halt and what at one point threatened to be 160-170 inched to 133/9 in 20 overs. -File photo by AFP

Pakistan mounted a stunning fightback to floor India in the first T20 in Bangalore on Tuesday.


The effort was capped by Shoaib Malik's steely half-century, who guided Pakistan home in a last-over finish with a big six.

It was a tale of two comebacks by Pakistan, first with the ball after India, put into bat, looked set to run away with the game at 75/0 in 10 overs and then with the bat after being reduced by the hosts to 3-12 in three overs while chasing a target of 134.

Both passages of play were equally impressive and were a perfect demonstration of why Pakistan remains the most potent T20 side in the world. On an entertainment-metre this highly characteristic Pakistan performance ranked as a blockbuster.

The drama started when Pakistan captain Mohammad Hafeez invited MS Dhoni's side to take guard first, putting the onus squarely on his side's batting line up who have traditionally wobbled while chasing. The Chinnaswamy Stadium pitch was flat but had a tinge of green.

It proved to be a big gamble at the outset as Gautam Gambhir (43) and Ajinka Rahane (42) blazed away, taking all including the 7ft 1in Mohammad Irfan to task. Irfan, to his credit, consistently bowled in the high 140s and provided some awkward moments for the batsmen. Importantly, though, he did not lose his composure which is a great sign for the Pakistan set up struggling to find some bite in the fast-bowling department lately.

A combination of some great fielding and an inspired spell by Umar Gul (3-21), who went for plenty in his first over, meant the Indian innings came to a crashing halt and what at one point threatened to be 160-170 inched to 133/9 in 20 overs.

Saeed Ajmal, who largely went unnoticed, was not missing in guile and control though, and snapped up 2-25 from his four overs.

The target, when Pakistan came out to bat, was always going to be competitive and images of recent collapses were all too vivid in the minds of the fans in green.

Their worst fears were realised as debutant Indian pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar toyed with the top-order. His ability to jag the ball both ways left acres of space between the bats and pads of Nasir Jamshed and Umar Akmal. Kumar also accounted for opener Ahmed Shahzad and finished with astonishing figures of 4-9-3.

It was left to Hafeez and Pakistan's 'Mr reliable against India', Shoaib Malik, to stage a counter. Hafeez put paid to recent criticism of his batting ability to notch up a confident 61 off 44 balls, that included four boundaries and two sixes. Malik, too, paced his innings brilliantly and pulled out the odd big stroke at the most crucial moments.

He remained unflustered by the loss of his captain and a colourful exchange between Ishant Sharma and Kamran Akmal to remain unbeaten at 57 from 50 balls, hammering three fours and three sixes, the last of which saw Pakistan, needing 10 to win in the last over, inch over the line with two balls to spare. Hafeez bagged the Man of the Match award for his breezy effort.

The match was the perfect prelude to what promises to be a spicy next few weeks.

The second T20 starts in Ahmedabad on December 28.

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Comments (35)

Zaheer Jafri
December 26, 2012 11:26 am
i fully agree with Samen Khan
December 25, 2012 7:34 pm
Congrats to Pak team for holding the nerves. Indian team has looked vulnerable lately. Pak needs to work on few things... Sohail Tanvir doesn't seem to be match fit for sometime now. Kamran Akmal almost messed it up in end. He has played cricket for too long and he played irresponsibly. Shoaib Malik demonstrated how to play under pressure. He keeps his best for India. Mr Kumar, the debutant was impressive. He needs more acceleration. Ishant badly needs a haircut. He looks like Mowgli. He is India's Mohammad Sami. There was no need for him to get verbal argument. Only the performance on the field is all that counts. Overall, great game of cricket.. Cricket was real winner.
December 25, 2012 7:41 pm
phew! that was too close for comfort.still congratulations to the boys.and the whole nation.
December 25, 2012 7:44 pm
great stuff. Pakistan needs one more batsman in the line up as the depth of our batting is not impressive.the two new fast bowlers irfan and b kumar from both countries were brilliant and i have a feeling that they will be around for a while provided they remain fit. well played Pakistan
Syed Azam
December 25, 2012 8:07 pm
Well said. Syed Azam
vijay singh ivory coast
December 25, 2012 8:20 pm
congrats to pakistani players for playing as a team.excellent knock forhis team by captain hafeez.wish you good luck for the next game.
December 25, 2012 8:46 pm
Despite risky decision by Hafeez by inviting Indians to bat first the result was favorable, credit goes to the whole Pakistani Team the way they kept their nerves. Shahid Afridi's wicket was the turning point as it rendered the first irrepairable blow to the Indian solid batting which crumbled like pack of cards in next overs, then as usual disapointing top order was ably anchored by Hafeez and was a real treat to watch, Pakistan bouncing back more than once which is rare and the Victory was achieved as a Team not by individuals, hats off Green shirts, beating India in India that too in such difficult conditions is a Victory which can not be forgotten. I wish you keep that Team spirit intact and beat them in next matches too. CONGRATULATIONS PAKISTAN!
General Pasha
December 25, 2012 9:37 pm
Indian Cricket team let Pakistan win 1st T20 for the sake of brotherly love and peace on the birthday (December 25) anniversary of the Father of Pakistan, Mohammad Ali Jinnah. Similarly, the Inidan cricket team let England had whitewash wins of the test matches and ODIs in England then recent India's losses on Indian cricket pitches were to make the British feel their former Colonial dominance and as India's good will guesture. Furthermore, India's miserable failure in Australia just before they went to England was to influence Australia to sell their Uranium to India and also to spread the goodwill of look east policy. Such ironical things happen including a staunch moslem & father of Pakistan, Mr. Jinnah was born on the birthday of Jesus Christ, the father of Christianity!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! LOL
Capt C M Khan
December 25, 2012 10:32 pm
Dave Whatmore & Co well one is praising you...SHAME ON THE EVIL FORCES in Pakistan who attaccked Sri Lankans and stopped International cricket in Pakistan.
December 25, 2012 11:59 pm
Well played, this is team work and now Pakistani selectors must maintain the winning combination, too much experimentation is not good, Hafeez must lead in One Day series rather than Misbah.
Peace for all
December 26, 2012 12:48 am
Great comments. Hope, we all follow you.
Peace for all
December 26, 2012 12:48 am
Great comments. Hope, we all follow you. Thanks for that.
December 26, 2012 12:54 am
Great game by the green team Pakistani heros ....but Indian players need to work much More on there host manners shame on shameless sharma.
December 26, 2012 1:24 am
There is nothing new which we might have learned about our team Excellent chance of grooming some youngsters wasted Umar Gul useless with new ball Takeout saeed ajmal from our bowling lineup and immediately the confidence bubble will burst Continued waste of a young and promising bowler like junaid khan making an ordinary bowler look like world best by cheaply getting out and no clue to swing or seam bowling players like hafeez n malik scoring against mediocre bowlers Akmals continue to have their influence and lobby in and out the team with noone to remind them of their actual worth Winning a useless T20 against india does not mean we have won the world cup Having said that, I feel Hafeez should be the captain for T20 and ODIs both however he should not be included in Test side
Nadeem Khattak
December 26, 2012 1:28 am
Excellent performance by Pakistani team espacially in the field. What a match!!! Good Job Pakistan and also congratulations to Mr. Kumar for his 4-3-9. Well done Shoaib Malik and Hafeez.
December 26, 2012 1:42 am
Abrar-ul-Haque, Virginia, USA
December 26, 2012 1:58 am
While having fully enjoyed the game, I just hope Shoaib escaped the wrath of Mirza.
December 26, 2012 3:25 am
self-inflicted injury Recently India is losing so many matches due to self-inflicted injury while Pakistan is slowly getting away from this disease. Dohni's captaincy is full of enigma and lacks common sense (two overs by Kohli), no Ashwin in the team, headless running by Gambhir, not playing world class bowlers like Ajmal and Gul according to merit of the ball. Only positive in this match for India is B. Kumar -- someone like Pravin Kumar only better.
December 26, 2012 3:43 am
For me Kamran is still a world class wicket keeper and very dependable and able batsmen... He is far better than Dhoni in WKing skills. India did not found any wicket keeper with the skills of anticipation, agility...
Shakti Singh
December 26, 2012 3:46 am
I firmly say, Pak is the best T20 team. However, they still need to work on ODI and Test Cricket.
sameen khan
December 26, 2012 4:28 am
I think shoaib malik should have been the man of the match not hafeez or it should have been those two as the joint winner. Congratulations team pakistan, for making this a beautiful day! And thank you Allah.
December 26, 2012 4:38 am
Good luck to both teams and good luck to the new pacers on both sides...
December 27, 2012 10:11 am
thanks mate and best of luck to your team too
December 26, 2012 5:40 am
I am relieved that Pakistan got through despite best efforts of Akmal bridari to deprive Pakistan of this much needed victory.... I would give credit to our fielders for saving 10+ runs which made the difference. Pakistan camp should not relax now as India will surely fight back....
December 26, 2012 6:14 am
Congrates Pak team for well fought win. Wish well for India next.
December 26, 2012 9:17 am
India's IPL Series for cricket is killing the very spirit of the game, throwing away talent and focus. I would say we (Indians) deserve to lose. Because all our players are focused on IPL money making process. Hope that we wake up and come to the 'game of cricket'.
Anindya Kumar Chaudhuri
December 26, 2012 9:31 am
Good one :)
December 26, 2012 9:42 am
well done pakistan . great fight back after initial set back
December 26, 2012 10:04 am
I think, Jadeja should be thrown out, and let Ashwin play instead of him. Ashwin bowls and bats better than Jadeja. I think, the day Dhoni is out from captain's role, Jadeja's international careeer will be thankfully over.
Swapan Banerjee
December 26, 2012 10:12 am
I agree . Ishant Sharma has been thoroughly unprofessional in the behavior . No Sehwag has made the team vulnerable . England also beat us shamelessly . I think the current team of India lacks the talent and bowling except one was disgusting . I dont think this India team deserve to win any match against Pakistani team which to me looks very solid and balanced .
December 26, 2012 12:03 pm
VP I think Dhoni is good enough keeper to be in the team and as a batsman KA is no match to him.
December 27, 2012 12:52 am
We are working on it. You shall see the results shortly.
December 27, 2012 2:57 am
I do not call this a win for Pak or a loss for India. Both teams played well.
December 27, 2012 7:58 am
why do u get allah in everything
Raoul Ciao
December 27, 2012 10:38 am
Pak team well batted ! Congrats !!
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