South Asia’s bitter rivals Pakistan and India are meeting again on the cricket ground, marking a gradual thaw in their decades-old rivalry. The first bilateral series between India and Pakistan since November 2007, comprising two Twenty20 matches and three one-day internationals, began on Christmas Day with a Twenty20 match in the southern Indian city of Bangalore which Pakistan won by five wickets. The pressure will be squarely on the hosts as they look to turnaround their batting failure in the opening game and level the series.
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Gul concedes 15 from the over, real big one for India and now 170 is a realistic possibility! It was typical Dhoni in this over, staying still and using those fast hands! 4,2,4,4,1,0. 133/3 in 16. Hafeez finally comes on.
Yuvraj greets Ajmal into the attack with a big six over midwicket, the wicket doesn’t seem to helping the spinners much either, but Ajmal and Afridi have only themselves to blame. India 118/3 in 15. Tanvir has one, Gul two and Afridi and Ajmal one each. Gul to operate now.
No Hafeez still and Irfan continues. India should be aiming for 160 minimum from here.
Afridi continues to throw apple pies at the batsmen, MS Dhoni opens his account with a boundary towards long-off before Yuvraj launches the bowler over midwicket for a repeat of his shot in Bangalore! The balls hit the second tier! India 105/3 in 13 and Afridi almost pleading for the mayhem to stop.
Ajmal finds Kohli well short of his ground with a bullet throw from short fine-leg! Yuvraj tapped it to the fielder and took off straight away and his partner never looked like making that one! Julien Fountain seems to have got their cross-hairs right!
If Irfan continues like this and prepares himself right, it will be interesting to see whether he gets picked for the South Africa Tests. Meanwhile, both Ajmal and Afridi continue to err. Why hasn’t Hafeez come on yet? Ajmal 2-12-0, Afridi 2-16-0. The figures may not seem too high but both bowlers have bowled without much control. Tanvir back on now.
Shahid Afridi starts his first over and concedes five. Afridi getting some spin but has been short. India have the perfect combo batting right now and if Kohli-Yuvraj can continue for another 5-6 overs, India can turn the tide here. Ajmal from the other end.
Break here as a raging Irfan bowls a killer first five-balls in the 8th over. He’s had Yuvraj hopping here and finally floors him with a trade-mark Waqar Younis style toe-crusher. Play continues and Kohli ends the over in exquisite fashion, stays back in his crease and times it straight down the ground for a boundary. 59/2 in 8 India.
Saeed Ajmal comes onto bowl, only four from his first over. In hindsight, Pakistan should have started with Irfan and Ajmal or Irfan and Hafeez. The ball is stopping and it will be an effort against the spinners. Gul continues and picks up another one, Rahane into the pull shot too early and only manages to toe-end it to the bowler! Should Pakistan continue with the same bowling attack in the ODIs? It look pretty balanced. On the sidelines are Wahab Riaz, Junaid Khan, Anwar Ali and Zulfiqar Babar.
After leaking three fours, Gambhir is beaten by a Gul slower ball. The batsman tried to hoick it over midwicket but was too early into the shot and missed the delivery completely. The umpire took no time in adjudging him LBW. India 44/1 in 5 as Virat Kohli comes into bat. Osman Samiuddin charts the Pakistan-India rivalry here.
Still no spin on this very harmless track. Umar Gul now replaces Irfan. Gambhir straightaway picks him for two boundaries! Pakistani fans will be hoping he goes for more and then comes back to produce a repeat performance of the first T20.
Only three given away by Irfan in the third over. India 20/0. Why Mohammad Hafeez does not bowl himself at the start of the innings anymore is anyone’s guess but he has been mighty effective against Gambhir. Meanwhile, Tanvir continues to leak runs. Rahane picks him over the covers and then plays the old-fashioned leg-glance towards fine leg. 1,1,4,4,0,1. India 31/0 in 4 overs.
Sohail Tanvir starts the second over of the innings in typical fashion, short and wide and gets spanked for two fours. Gambir and Rahane both seem like they have come out with a plan and there’s nothing circumspect about their approach. India race to 17/0 in 2 overs.
Irfan looks impressive once again but the Indian batsmen been smart, hung around in the crease and tapped him around from singles. Rahane also picked up a boundary early on through the point region to take India to 7/0 in the first over.
Mohammad Irfan to start the proceedings for Pakistan, Gautam Gambhir and Ajinkya Rahane the openers. Irfan marks his run with giant strides and looks focused.
Pakistan have won the toss and elected to field first. The tourists are unchanged from the first T20 while India have brought in Ashwin in place of Jadeja.
Mohammad Hafeez*, Ahmed Shehzad, Nasir Jamshed, Kamran Akmal†, Umar Akmal, Shoaib Malik, Shahid Afridi, Sohail Tanvir, Umar Gul, Saeed Ajmal, Mohammad Irfan
G Gambhir, AM Rahane, V Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, SK Raina, RG Sharma, MS Dhoni*†, R Ashwin, B Kumar, I Sharma, AB Dinda