M A I N   N E W S

India clinch series in Pak
Pathan grabs 3 wickets; Laxman hits century
M.R. Mishra

V.V.S. Laxman raises his bat after reaching his century
V.V.S. Laxman raises his bat after reaching his century in the fifth and final ODI against Pakistan in Lahore on Wednesday.
— Reuters photo

Virender Sehwag leaves the field after being dismissed by Shabbir Ahmad for 20
Virender Sehwag leaves the field after being dismissed by Shabbir Ahmad for 20.
— PTI photo

Lakshmipati Balaji celebrates after dismissing Pakistani opener Yasir Hameed
Lakshmipati Balaji celebrates after dismissing Pakistani opener Yasir Hameed. 

Indian players along with the umpire attend captain Sourav Ganguly
Indian players along with the umpire attend captain Sourav Ganguly (lying down) after he was injured while trying to stop a shot by his Pakistani counterpart Inzamam-ul-Haq.
— Reuters photos

Lahore, March 24
Shrugging off the tag of “chokers”, India rewrote history by winning their first-ever series in Pakistan after beating back a late charge by the home side in the decisive fifth one-dayer here tonight to the joy of their delirious supporters who set off fireworks.

The 40-run win that gave India the “fancied” series 3-2 was built on a wristy 107 by V.V.S. Laxman, followed by another brilliant bowling display by left-arm seamer Irfan Pathan (3/32) who helped reduce the home side to 96 for six at one stage. A fightback by wicketkeeper Moin Khan, who made 72, and Shoaib Malik (65) was not enough for their team to overtake India’s 293 for seven and the home side were all out for 253 in the 48th over.

Never before have India won a one-day, or for that matter a Test series, in Pakistan. They had lost all the five previous series of the game’s shorter version in this country and their facile win before a packed Gaddafi Stadium was a sweet triumph.

In contrast to the first four thrilling matches of the series which was tied 2-2, tonight’s decider was in sharp contrast, with India, having been put in, notching up 293 and then holding the upper hand throughout except when Moin and Malik put on a brave 99 runs for the seventh wicket.

The Indians put in an inspired bowling performance to rip through the Pakistani batting line-up which could never really recover from the early jolts inflicted by Irfan Pathan and L Balaji.

Balaji fired the first salvo by evicting the in-form Yasir Hameed in his very first over, dislodging the opener’s off-stump with a gem of an in-cutter.

The young Pathan then brought the spotlight on himself by sending back the experienced Yousuf Youhana for just one, trapping him lbw to reduce the home team to a precarious nine for two by the third over.

The visitors tightened the noose three overs later when the left-handed Pathan got rid of opener Taufeeq Umar, who came into the team in place of Shahid Afridi. Umar misjudged the line of a sharp delivery and saw his stumps being knocked down for 18.

Captain Inzamam-ul Haq, later declared man-of-the-series, and Younis Khan tried to salvage the situation for their team by playing cautiously against the charged up Indian pacemen who bowled a tidy line and length.

But Pathan struck again by claiming the wicket of Younis Khan (12) with Yuvraj Singh latching on to a smart catch, allowing the Indians to take a tight control of the proceedings.

With the hosts reeling at 58 for four by the 13th over, it was left to Inzamam, who had hit two centuries in the previous matches of this high-profile series, to pull the team out of the pits and the burly captain seemed to be in no discomfort as he went about the task of rebuilding the innings with a cool head.

Inzamam curbed his attacking instincts and was quite content in keeping the scoreboard ticking with singles but as a result the asking rate kept mounting.

The Pakistan captain and Shoaib Malik put on 29 runs for the fifth wicket before left-arm spinner Murali Kartik claimed the prized scalp of Inzamam.

The right-handed Inzamam tried to lift Kartik out of the ground but Sachin Tendulkar latched on to a brilliant catch just a few inches inside the boundary line at the long on fence. He scored a 51-ball 38 which contained five boundaries.

All-rounder Abdul Razzaq (5) also could not hang around for long, falling prey to Balaji as he returned for the seocnd spell from the far end.

Then came the most productive period for the home team as Shoaib Malik and Moin Khan raised hopes of a spirited fightback with a 99-run seventh wicket partnership.

As the evening progressed, the dew made it difficult for the bowlers to grip the ball. Both Malik and Moin took advantage of the situation and played some attacking shots in a bid to accelerate the pace of scoring as the run rate had climbed to more than seven runs at that stage.

Part-timer Virender Sehwag finally brought the flourishing partnership to an end by scalping Malik for 65 which came off 89 balls.

Moin and Mohammed Sami kept up the run chase with a rollicking 52-run partnership, making the visitors a little panicky, but it was too uphill a task by then.

Earlier, put in to bat after Inzamam won the toss for the fifth time in a row, VVS Laxman, awarded man-of-the-match, marked his return to form with a scintillating 104-ball 107 to propel India to a competitive 293 for seven which also saw some lusty hittings by the tailenders.

The stylish Laxman, who did not have a big score to his credit in the three earlier matches, notched up his sixth one-day century, his fourth this year, as he paced his innings brilliantly after the visitors lost both their openers Sehwag and Tendulkar rather early.

Captain Sourav Ganguly was the second highest scorer with 45 but it was the late charge by Pathan (20 off 12) and Balaji (10 off 6) which gave some respectability to the Indian total.



Sehwag c Moin b Shabbir 20

Tendulkar c Moin b Sami 37

Laxman c Sami b Malik 107

Ganguly c Moin b Shoaib 45

Dravid b Sami 4

Yuvraj c Inzamam b Shabbir 18

Kaif c Umer b Sami 16

Pathan not out 20

Balaji not out 10

Extras: 16

Total (7 wkts, 50 overs) 293

Fall of wickets: 1-34, 2-79, 3-171, 4-183, 5-227, 6-253, 7-276.

Bowling: Shoaib 10-1-47-1, Shabbir 10-1-56-2, Sami 10-1-63-3, Razzaq 10-0-54-0, Malik 10-0-67-1.


Hameed b Balaji 2

Umar b Pathan 18

Youhana lbw b Pathan 1

Haq c Tendulkar b Kartik 38

Y Khan c Yuvraj b Pathan 12

Malik c Kaif b Sehwag 64

Razzaq c Sehwag b Balaji 5

Moin b Balaji 72

Sami b Zaheer 23

Akhtar run out 2

Ahmed not out 1

Extras: 15

Total: (all out) 253

Fall of wickets: 1-8, 2-9, 3-25, 4-58, 5-87, 6-96, 7-195, 8-248, 9-250.

Bowling: Balaji 9.5-0-60-3, Tendulkar 5.0-0-27-0, Pathan 10-2-32-3, Kartik 10-0-42-1, Sehwag 4-0-25-1, Zaheer Khan 9-0-53-1.— PTI


Sachin dedicates win to ‘all of India’

Lahore, March 24
Soon after his team registered its first-ever one-day cricket series win on Pakistan soil, batting maestro Sachin Tendulkar dedicated the victory to the whole of India.

“We have been reaching the final and losing there for a while. And to do it finally in Pakistan means a lot to us. We dedicate this victory to all of India,” Tendulkar said after India beat Pakistan by 40 runs in the fifth and final one-dayer at the Gadaffi Stadium here tonight.

“Moin Khan (who scored 78) batted well towards the end but we maintained our nerves. It was a team work,” he said.

Nineteen-year-old Irfan Pathan, who picked eight wickets in the three matches he played, said he “did not have words” to express his feelings.

“It is a great win for us. I don’t know what to say, I don’t have words to describe it,” he said.

“I knew God was with me, I knew in my mind he was helping me which gave me the confidence (to perform).

“I did not play in the first two matches but I knew how to bowl on the subcontinent wickets with variation,” he said.

Man of the match V.V.S. Laxman, who found form at the right time with an important century, said it was “one of the memorable knocks” as it helped the team win.

“I am glad that I made the runs when the team needed them most,” he said.

“I made a conscious effort to come on the front foot today. I was going on the back foot in the previous matches, I think it was because of the influence of the Australian tour.”

“The bowlers did a great job in containing the runs in the first 15 overs. Pathan and (Laxmipathy) Balaji are really the find for India,” Laxman said.

Captain Sourav Ganguly said winning the fourth match to level the series 2-2 was crucial for his team to regain the momentum.

“Yes, winning the previous match was a fantastic effort, particularly after being down 95 for four. Rahul Dravid and Mohammad Kaif helped us gain the winning momentum,” he said.

“This team has played some fantastic cricket in the last one year or so.

“We did not have our key players in the series and for the youngsters to come and do what they have done, particularly in Pakistan, is phenomenal.”

Losing skipper and man-of-the-series Inzamam-ul-Haq, who also bagged awards for being the highest scorer and having the highest average, said the winning edge might have gone to India ahead of the Test series.

“Our boys did play well but a win always gives you confidence. I think the edge (in the Test series) might have gone India’s way,” he said. — PTI


Fans celebrate ‘gift to nation’

New Delhi, March 24
Cricket fever reached a feverish pitch as the nation celebrated India’s comprehensive 40-run victory over arch-rivals Pakistan in the series-deciding one-day cricket match at Lahore tonight.

India’s emphatic victory, their first ever on Pakistan soil, prompted fans to pour out on the streets, which had been deserted for most part of the day here in the national capital.

Vadodara, the home town of India’s sensational new find Irfan Pathan, wore a festive look as fans carrying pictures of the local hero, hailed the victory.

Fans were seen bursting crackers and distributing sweets in Mumbai which celebrated the win late into the night.

For many babus working in government offices, it was a break from the mundane routine as they took a day off to watch the climax of a series which has witnessed intense cricket between the rivals.

Also glued to their television sets were the politicians who took time off the election frenzy to watch the cricketing superstars in action. The maverick RJD leader from Bihar Laloo Yadav was also caught cheering the ‘Men in Blue’.

Cricket mania also swept the Delhi Assembly as it met for a two-day Budget Session, with most members wanting early wrap-up to enable them to watch the day-night tie.

Opposition Delhi BJP President Harsh Vardhan’s plea for extending the session today to discuss issues like power and water which were “more important” than the cricket match attracted the ire of those from the ruling benches.

Delhi Legislators argued inside the House over the importance of the series decider.

The Assembly session, which begins at 2pm, was advanced to 10am to enable the members to watch the game.

Unease among the members was evident as the clock struck two with many of them pointing out that the match would have begun.

Congratulatory messages started pouring in once the match ended with President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam and Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee leading the nation in hailing the historic win.

His deputy L.K. Advani, undertaking a country-wide ‘Rath Yatra’, ensured that the match did not keep away the crowd and had two giant screens erected for beaming the match live.

He also congratulated Sourav Ganguly and his men for registering a “memorable” victory. — PTI


Rs 50 lakh bonanza for Indian team

Kolkata, March 24 
Elated over the Indian cricket team’s historic win over Pakistan in the one-day series, the cricket board announced a bonus of Rs 50 lakh for the squad. 

“I congratulate the Indian team for having achieved the goal, they not only played superbly to win the one-day series but they also played in the true spirit of the game. 

“They have helped in improving the relationship between the two countries. It is because of them that the people of two countries have come closer,” BCCI President Jagmohan Dalmiya told PTI. 

Dalmiya said as a token of appreciation the BCCI has decided to give a bonus to the tune of Rs 50 lakh to the team. 

Also, I would like to record my appreciation for the way the government, the people and the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) have conducted the series. 

“Their behaviour has been exceptional. I congratulate the PCB for the excellent organisation,” he said. — PTI Back

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