Malik, Hafeez silence Indian crowd | Pakistan Today

Malik, Hafeez silence Indian crowd

Two of Pakistan’s experienced hands guided them to victory in their first game in almost three months, and their first bilateral tour of India in five years. An early burst from debutant Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who began his international career with a fabulous display of swing bowling, rattled the Pakistan top order but the calm presence of Mohammad Hafeez and some enterprising batting from Shoaib Malik put a chase of 134 back on track. Pakistan had another scare at the death, losing two in quick time when victory appeared secure, but Malik ultimately saw them through in the final over, sealing the game with a six. The hosts were a specialist bowler short, as the pair targeted the non-regulars.
A full house at the Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore reached peak decibel levels during an opening stand of 77 between Gautam Gambhir and Ajinkya Rahane that laid an ideal platform for India’s strong middle order to push on towards a formidable score. But a Pakistan fight back produced an Indian collapse, and consequently silenced a 36,000-strong crowd. Nine wickets fell for 47 runs in less than eight overs during which Pakistan raised their game, their bowlers backed up by superb ground fielding.
Umar Gul and Saeed Ajmal were the architects of that comeback, after being struck for sixes in their respective opening overs. Gul was smashed over midwicket by Gambhir, but had Yuvraj Singh caught in the deep off a slower ball in his new spell before removing two in two towards the death. Ajmal carted over extra cover by Rahane, but returned to dismiss MS Dhoni and Suresh Raina with quicker deliveries at a time when India would have backed themselves to reach a score of around or above 150. They looked good for more when Rahane and Gambhir were going strong. Gambhir ceded floor to his junior partner, whose timing stood out, as he carted both seamers and spinners over extra cover with minimum effort. One such shot was a lofted drive off Ajmal for six; his preference for that area prompted Mohammad Hafeez to move a fielder to wide long-off, and it yielded a wicket when Rahane went after Shahid Afridi in the 11th over. Gambhir had started picking up the pace but was caught short of the crease when attempting a second run in the 13th over. Sohail Tanvir returned a throw on the half-volley to Kamran Akmal, who collected well and dislodged the stumps. Virat Kohli and Yuvraj began well but fell trying to heave the seamers over square leg – left-arm fast bowler Mohammad Irfan got rid of Kohli to bag his first international wicket. Ajmal’s tricks against Dhoni and Raina, and the early run-out of Rohit Sharma, sent back by a direct hit from the deep, transformed India’s game from one aimed at an aggressive charge to mere survival. India scored just one boundary in the last six overs, the first half of the game won by a team that hasn’t played together in more than two months.

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