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India crush Pakistan in first one-dayer

Kochi, April 2
India bounced back from the numbing Bangalore Test loss to thrash Pakistan by 87 runs in the first cricket one-day international here today, recording their first ODI win against their arch-rivals at home since their famous World Cup victory in 1996.

The Indians put up a commanding all-round performance with Virender Sehwag and Rahul blasting centuries to propel them to a challenging 281 for eight before Sachin Tendulkar picked up his second five-wicket haul to skittle out the visitors for 194 with nearly five overs to spare.

It was not a convincing batting display with captain Sourav Ganguly's first ball dismissal being a black spot in the bright glow and the failure of the middle order resulting in a scoreline significantly less than the hosts would have settled for on a benign pitch.

But Tendulkar's star turn with the ball, five for 50, combined with the Pakistani batsmen's reluctance to apply themselves gave the hosts a facile victory at the packed Jawarharlal Nehru stadium.

Incidentally, Tendulkar had grabbed his first five-for also at the same venue, a match winning 5-32 against the Australians in 1998.

The victory also helped India narrow their win-loss record against Pakistan at home to 5-11 and buck the sequence of four consecutive ODI defeats.

Earlier, India seemed to run out of gas as they suffered a middle order collapse immediately after the record third-wicket stand between Sehwag and Dravid.

Sehwag cracked a typically aggressive 108 from 95 balls while vice-captain Dravid made a steady 104 but the hosts lost their way after the former's departure towards the closing stages.

The duo put on 201 runs from 199 balls, which bettered the previous best between the two teams -- 161 runs put up by Dravid and Mohammad Azharuddin at Toronto in 1996.

Yet, the total, on a perfect batting strip, at best could have been termed as competitive and something the bowlers could defend.

The fall of quick wickets on either side of the partnership undermined captain Sourav Ganguly's decision to bat first.

Off spinner Arshad Khan finished with four for 33 to slice through the tail while Rana Naved-ul-Hasan (2-38) did the early damage, removing Sachin Tendulkar (4) and Ganguly (0) off successive balls.

India were 205 for two at one stage before they lost six wickets for 64 runs in the last 15 overs.

The extreme heat and humidity, a sudden shift from the cooler climes of Bangalore, had debilitating effect on players from both the teams.

Shahid Afridi and Rana, suffered cramps while India's scoring rate was affected as Dravid seemed drained from his effort. The vice-captain did not take the field during the Pakistan innings.

The 'Wall' might have expected the young guns to take charge as he approached his century, but he was let down by Yuvraj Singh (16), Mohammad Kaif (7) and Mahendra Singh Dhoni (3), who all perished to innocuous shots.

Dravid found the task of providing the late thrust too much to handle, and was run out to a direct hit.

India thus lacked that big kick in the last lap and simply crawled towards the final post.

The Indians, however, were cruising at jet speed despite the twin dismissals of Tendulkar and Ganguly in the second over.

Tendulkar was caught at mid on as he top edged Rana while attempting a big heave off the bowler. The right arm pacer then got a bonus when Ganguly shuffled across and lost his leg stump the very next delivery.

Sehwag and Dravid did more than a recovery job as they gradually increased the tempo before launching into the rival bowling.

Sehwag, dropped twice on zero and eight, punished the Pakistani attack with three sixes and nine fours before losing his stumps to Razzaq.

The 200 came in the 35th over, but with Sehwag went the momentum and scoreboard ticked at snail's pace from there on.

Pakistan were off to a flier with Salman Butt (26) and Kamran Akmal (17) blasting 45 runs in less than seven overs.

But three wickets for fours runs in successive overs quickly changed the complexion of the game.

Balaji (2-32) provided the breakthrough when he had Akmal caught by Sehwag before Ganguly held on to a difficult catch at square leg to see off Butt.

Shoaib Malik, playing his first match of the tour, flashed at outside of the off stump for a straight forward catch at point.

But the biggest blow came three overs later when Yousuf Youhana played early at a full length delivery from Zaheer Khan and the bowler dived to his right for a superb return catch.

Then Tendulkar came on to cast a spell on the batsmen with his vicious leg breaks. Bowling around the stumps, the senior most member of the team trapped them in a web.

First to go was captain Inzamam-ul-Haq (37) who was beaten for pace by a straighter one that clipped his off bail.

Abdul Razzaq (5) played all over a leg side full toss and top edged it to Sehwag at short fineleg.

Shahid Afridi (8) was in a hurry and mistimed a sweep shot for a well judged catch by Zaheer at deep squareleg.

Mohammad Sami returned a simple catch before Mohammad Hafeez (42) became the maestro's fifth victim. PTI


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