Pakistan suffer from Tendulkar and the heat at Kochi
After ensuring that India only got to 281, when at one stage Pakistan were very likely left with a chase in excess of 325, Pakistan's batsmen fluffed their lines and batted with uncalled for aggression as they folded up for 194 in the first one-dayer at Kochi
. Tendulkar wrecked the middle and lower order with five wickets in his ten overs of whatchamacallit
. His previous five wicket haul also came at Kochi, almost exactly five years ago
. Sehwag and Dravid scored contrasting centuries for India but the rest of the batsmen contributed nothing and India ended up with a total they would have been unhappy with.
Ganguly did his team a great favour by winning the toss and the crowd had barely settled in when India were two down in the second over. This was after Sehwag was put down the first ball of the game. Tendulkar was out trying to pull Naved and Ganguly's legstump went for a walk the very next ball. For a man desperately out of form
, the absolutely last thing Ganguly would have wanted was an ignominious first-baller, out moving far too across his stumps and exposing the leg-stump.
Dravid and Sehwag got together to put the innings back on the rails. They did so by being cautious till around the 20th over. At the fifteen over stage, India were scoring at around 5 an over, which isnt electric by modern one-day international standards. The floodgates opened after Sehwag got to his fifty, off 55 deliveries. From 100 in 22 overs, India reached 150 in the 28th over and 200 by the 34th over. Sehwag accelerated after he reached his half-century, his next 50 runs came in just 29 deliveries! Dravid's was obviously a much more measured innings in comparison and the partnership was a typically fire and ice one, with Sehwag bludgeoning and Dravid caressing. The oppressive conditions
under which the game was played took their toll on both players and Sehwag, too drained to continue any further, aimed a huge heave and was out bowled by Razzaq. Yuvraj sparkled for a while but he didnt control his sweep and was out caught in the deep. Dravid got to his century and celebrated with much more gusto than he normally does. Kaif got out to the sweep and now India were in danger of messing up bigtime. They promptly proceeded to do that. After Sehwag got out in the 36th over, 74 runs were made in 15 overs, ridiculous by any standards, especially considering there were seven wickets in hand. The tail enders batted with a distinct lack of common sense and Dravid, too tired to carry on, was run out. Of course, the moment Pakistan saw the situation unfold, they choked the runs with Arshad Khan and Mohammad Hafeez bowling tightly and yorker-length most of the time. India ended their innings at 281, a far cry from the 325 which looked likely when the 35th over was bowled.
Pakistan started strongly, with Salman Butt and Kamran Akmal hitting a few boundaries off Balaji and Zaheer. The fielding was sloppy, with Ganguly dropping Akmal once and not fielding cleanly on a couple of other occasions. Sehwag then caught Akmal superbly and then Butt's flicked was caught nicely by a diving Ganguly. Shoaib Malik, who hurt India quite a few times last year
, was out playing a loose shot and suddenly Pakistan were 49/3 after being 45/0. It became 64/4 after Zaheer splendidly caught Youhana off his own bowling. Inzamam and Mohammad Hafeez steadied the ship for a while and Inzamam was looking quite dangerous. However the asking rate kept mounting and Pakistan took 24 overs to get to 100.
Tendulkar then got in the thick of the proceedings when he brilliantly bowled Inzamam off a quicker delivery. He then proceeded to wipe out the all-rounders and the tail-enders with his assortment of legbreaks, half-trackers and full-tosses. Razzaq swept to short-fineleg while Afridi slogged to deep mid-wicket, Sami hit a fulltoss back to Tendulkar and Hafeez's pull landed up with Nehra giving Tendulkar a five wicket haul. Zaheer cleaned up Naved-ul-Hasan, ending a fighting last wicket partnership.
Sehwag was the man of the match, although the organizers would not have been far off the mark had they given the award to the physios of both teams.