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Asia Cup 2014 – Ind vs Pak: Dogged Hafeez, Madcap Afridi Push India Towards Exit

By on March 2, 2014

Pakistan 249 for 9 (Hafeez 75, Shehzad 42, Afridi 34*, Ashwin 3-44) beat India 245 for 8 (Rayudu 58, Rohit 56, Jadeja 52*, Ajmal 3-40) by one wicket…

Pakistan win by one wicket in the last over.

It was Mohammad Hafeez’s game from the start. He took the new ball and had Shikhar Dhawan LBW with a slider. He then ran back to catch a skier off Rohit Sharma’s bat. He had risked producing a Youtube blooper by colliding into the fielder running in from midwicket. But the man they call The Professor kept a sharp eye on the ball and finished the catch comfortably.

Asia Cup 2014 - Ind vs Pak: Mohammad HafeezHe then dismissed Dinesh Karthik and took another fine overhead catch by timing his jump to perfection at midwicket. But Hafeez’s day wasn’t done. He came out to bat as Pakistan chased 246. The second ball he faced was smashed over long-on for six. He then gave up the aggression and chose a more patient, steady route towards victory. It was a near-perfect day for him, blemished only by a dropped catch—an easy one off his own bowling off Ravindra Jadeja—and then his running out Misbah-ul Haq with an awful call for a single.

That should have been Hafeez’s final mistake of the day. But it wasn’t. He got out slogging a carom ball from Ravichandran Ashwin, just one of the three wickets Ashwin took with that variation today. Then, Pakistan collapsed.

After Hafeez, The Afridi Show

Sohaib Maqsood got run out, Umar Gul and Mohammad Talha were caught in the deep. And in some form of poetic justice, Saeed Ajmal was bowled around his legs by Ashwin’s carom ball. Pakistan were throwing away a game like only they knew how to. Their last line of offence was an out-of-form Shahid Afridi.

One day past the official age of 34, the Pathan blocked a few. And then, like an amnesiac axe-man struggling to recall the purpose of his weapon, he started swinging away. He slogged Jadeja for a six, swept Bhuvaneshwar Kumar for four and took his team into the last over needing 10.

Virat Kohli trusted Ashwin for the over. Ashwin dismissed Ajmal. Afridi returned to strike. Ashwin bowled a flat, short ball outside the off-stump. Afridi made some room. He flat-batted it over extra-cover for six. It’s not the direction in which such deliveries ever travel to. But Afridi has been known to do crazier things. Ashwin tried the ball again. Afridi made some room again. He swung it over long-on. The ball hung in the air as heavy as memories of Johannesburg 2007. Only this time, the ball was meant to travel the distance—the distance shortened by ropes that had been pulled in a good 10 yards. The Pakistan team ran to the field to lionise Afridi, who was now celebrating like he’d just won the World Cup. What a fine job Kohli had done of controlling a game in good batting conditions with an inexperienced attack. But his plans were shred to bits by an eccentric genius. Barring any miracles of math, India cannot make the final now.

India Struggle To 245

The absence of MS Dhoni due to injury and Suresh Raina and Yuvraj Singh due to poor form has reduced India’s famed middle-order firepower. With Rohit and Dhawan’s inconsistency, Kohli has seemed the only batsman in this squad with the ability to attack over a long duration. So when Kohli fell cheaply trying to glide Gul through the slips, Pakistan were certain to do a good job of stagnating India in the middle overs.

Rohit looked set for the big score he’s been due for. Two pulls for sixes, one off Gul and another off Junaid Khan, suggested he had gauged the wicket and the Pakistan attack perfectly. But after the drinks break, he fell to debutant Talha trying to launch a front-foot pull off a ball that hurried on to him.

Dinesh Karthik and Ajinkya Rahane struggled to rotate the strike, particularly against Talha and Afridi. As the two fell to forceful strokes, out came Rayudu and Jadeja to make the difference.

Singles formed the core of the revival staged by the duo. While the consensus among the TV pundits is that this wicket was turning, Rayudu and Jadeja (and Rohit before them) were able to maintain a run-a-ball rate. Rayudu was playing the most important knock of his fledgling international career. As he’s shown many times in the IPL, he could score quickly while absorbing the pressure of falling wickets in a high-intensity game.

Jadeja was put down by Hafeez on by 12. The left-hander picked the wrong ball to loft, ending up slogging against the turning off-spinner by Hafeez. The bowler himself got underneath the skier and dropped it, having taken two well-timed catches in the same innings. Jadeja did a better job against Ajmal, picking the doosra well, hitting one into the stands.

There was sensibility and maturity in the way Rayudu and Jadeja went about for their runs. But in the end, India needed more fire power in those overs absent which the game was lost.

Source: Yahoo Cricket

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