DateLine: 26th September 2009
Shoaib Malik smashed a brisk century to set up Pakistan's 54-run victory over arch-rivals India in the Champions Trophy here on Saturday.
The middle-order batsman hit 128 for his seventh hundred in one-dayers as Pakistan posted a challenging 302-9 before restricting India to 248 in a pressure match to boost their hopes of qualifying for the semi-finals.
Veteran Rahul Dravid top-scored with a fighting 76, but India's chances were severely affected after the departures of big-hitters Gautam Gambhir (57) and Suresh Raina (46).
Pakistan have won both of their matches in the four-team group, while Australia beat the West Indies in their opening game in Johannesburg on Saturday. India and the West Indies have yet to open their account.
The top two sides advance to the semi-finals.
Pakistan were indebted to Malik and Mohammad Yousuf (87) for setting a stiff target in the day-night match as the pair put on 206 in 31.2 overs -- their record stand for the fourth wicket against India in one-dayers.
Malik was named man of the match.
"It was a professional performance. Malik and Yousuf played fantastic knocks. The boys were very keen," said Pakistan captain Younus Khan.
"We are still hungry. If we can defeat Australia in the next game, it would be nice."
India's chase under lights began on a shaky note when ace batsman Sachin Tendulkar fell in the fifth over, caught behind off teenage paceman Mohammad Aamer after contributing just eight.
Gambhir exploded with a flurry of boundaries to keep the pressure on the Pakistani bowlers and fielders, hitting two sixes and seven fours in his quickfire 46-ball knock.
Just when he looked like playing a big knock, he was run out following a mix-up with Dravid. Younus sparked celebrations when he hit the stumps at the non-striker's end from mid-off.
India's chances receded sharply with the dismissal of Raina, who was trapped leg-before by off-spinner Saeed Ajmal after hitting two sixes and five fours in his 41-ball knock.
Pakistani fans raced onto the ground when Ajmal bowled Harbhajan Singh to complete the victory.
"When Raina was batting, I thought it (the target) was pretty gettable and after that it became difficult. Two run-outs don't help you when you are chasing. We gave away too many runs," said India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
"Two big games are coming up and from now on, it's like a knock-out for us. If we don't play well, we can pack up and go back home"
Pakistan, playing their first one-dayer against India in more than a year, earlier recovered from 65-3 after electing to bat, thanks to Malik and Yousuf who dominated the bowling with a wide range of attacking shots.
The Malik-Yousuf onslaught saw Pakistan plunder 85 in the last 10 overs.
Yousuf fell playing shots, bowled by left-arm seamer Ashish Nehra, but not before he had put his team in a strong position. Malik was out in the penultimate over after smashing 16 fours in his 126-ball knock.
Nehra was the most successful bowler with 4-55, but received little support from the other end.
Pakistan began aggressively as openers Imran Nazir and Kamran Akmal helped their team race to 50 in less than nine overs.
Nazir went for shots early in his innings, hitting four boundaries in his 17-ball 20 before top-edging a pull off Nehra to be caught by Harbhajan at mid-on. Nehra struck again when he bowled Akmal for 19.
Pakistan looked in trouble after Younus (20) was caught behind off left-arm paceman Rudra Pratap Singh.
India then had to wait for more than 31 overs for their next success as Malik and Yousuf applied themsleves remarkably well to put their team in a comfortable position.
(Article: Copyright © 2009 AFP)
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