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India win thriller, level series 1-1

 AHMEDABAD, Dec 28 (PTI): Yuvraj Singh cracked a dazzling 72 before the bowlers staged a brilliant recovery at the death overs as India clinched a nerve-wrecking 11-run victory over arch-rivals Pakistan in the second T20 International to level the series 1-1 here today.India posted a competitive 192 riding on Yuvraj’s 36-ball-knock that included seven huge sixes, and then restricted the rivals to 181 for seven with the bowlers finding their mojo just in the nick of time.

Paceman Ashok Dinda scalped three for 36 including the important wicket of rival captain Mohammed Hafeez (55) in the penultimate over to turn the tide in India’s favour at the jam-packed Sardar Patel Stadium.

At one stage, Pakistan seemed to be well and truly on course to overhaul India’s challenging target but Dinda and Ishant Sharma kept their cool during the death overs to seal the issue in hosts’ favour.

Needing 20 runs off the final over bowled by Ishant, Umar Gul and Shoaib Malik could manage only eight runs much to the delight of the home crowd and captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni whose leadership has been under the scanner for some time now. Apart from Hafeez, who scored his runs off only 26 balls with six fours and three sixes, openers Nasir Jamshed (41) and Ahmed Shehzad (31) were the other notable contributors for the visitors.

Pakistan captain Hafeez came in at the fall of Shehzad’s wicket and took the Indian attack to the cleaners hitting five fours and three sixes. The two shots that stood out was a scoop off Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s bowling once he saw that the fine leg was up. The second was a six over extra cover off Ishant’s bowling.

He also hit a couple of boundaries off Ashok Dinda and the equation suddenly changed. When Umar Akmal was cleaned by Dinda, the pair had added 62 runs in 5.3 overs. The Pakistan captain completed his back-to-back half century with a smash past the bowler. Hafeez completed the landmark in 23 deliveries with five fours and three sixes.

Shahid Afridi hit a four and six in his customary style before he was caught by Rohit off Bhuvneshwar’s bowling. The UP lad learnt a tough lesson as he finished with poor figures of one for 46 in four overs.

As the match looked like slipping away from India’s grasp, Dinda dismissed Hafeez and Kamran Akmal with slower deliveries to set up an exciting final over after which Ishant wrapped up the proceedings.

Pakistan started their chase in right earnest as openers Nasir Jamshed and Ahmed Shehzad added 74 runs for the opening stand. It was the introduction of Ashwin that slowed down the proceedings. Skipper Dhoni dropped Jamshed on 40 off Ashwin but the opener couldn’t capitalise on the miss as he tried to hit the offie over point but was holed out to Virat Kohli for 41. Jamshed hit four fours and a six.

Yuvraj, who could do no wrong today, was greeted with straight six by Umar but he got Shehzad stumped as the batsman was trying to give him the charge. Shehzad scored 31 off 29 balls with three boundaries and a six.


India: Gambhir lbw Gul 21, Rahane c & b Gul 28, Kohli run out 27, Yuvraj c Malik b Gul 72, Dhoni b Gul 33, Raina not out 1, Rohit not out 4; Extras: (lb-5, nb-1): 6; Total: (For 5 wickets; 20 overs) 192; Fall of wickets: 1-44, 2-53, 3-88,4-185, 5-187; Bowling: Irfan 4-0-20-0, Tanvir 4-0-44-0, Gul 4-0-37-4, Ajmal 4-0-42-0, Afridi 3-0-33-0, Hafeez 1-0-11-0.

Pakistan: Nasir c Kohli b Ashwin 41, Shehzad st Dhoni b Yuvraj 31, U Akmal b Dinda 24, Hafeez c Raina b Dinda 55, Afridi c Rohit b Kumar 11, K Akmal c Kohli b Dinda 53, Shoaib not out 3, Gul c Yuvraj b Ishant 5; Extras: (LB-2, WD-4): 6; Total: (For 7 wickets in 20 overs): 181; Fall of wickets: 1-74, 2-84, 3-146, 4-163, 5-168, 6-172, 7-181; Bowling: Kumar 4-0-46-1, Ishant 4-0-34-1, Dinda 4-0-36-3, Ashwin 4-0-28-1, Raina 2-0-12-0, Yuvraj 2-0-23-1.

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