Match report: Ind vs Pak – 2nd T20I
India beat Pakistan by 11 runs in yet another nerve-wracking last-over finish, at the Sardar Patel Stadium, Motera. With India looking to level the two-match series and Pakistan hoping to win it, the second game turned out to be as thrilling an encounter as it was expected to be. After Yuvraj Singh set up a big score with a blistering knock to post his highest T20I score, the Indian bowlers defended 192 runs by claiming wickets at crucial junctures to win the game.
With Pakistan chasing their highest T20I target against India, Nasir Jamshed and Ahmed Shehzad took guard and scored freely off the Indian pacers, until MS Dhoni introduced Ravichandran Ashwin and Suresh Raina into the attack; the duo brought down the pace of scoring a bit. Ashwin gave India their first breakthrough with the wicket of Jamshed. The opener handed a catch to Virat Kohli at point. Yuvraj Singh had Shehzad stumped in the next over.
With both teams going neck and neck at the end of 11 overs, the visitors put up a spectacular batting display to stay in the game. Mohammad Hafeez then launched the counterattack lofting Ashwin over midwicket for consecutive sixes and anchored the innings to keep the match evenly poised. And with India needing a wicket Ashoke Dinda castled Umar Akmal, but that brought in the hard-hitting Shahid Afridi to the crease. He got off the mark with a four. But Bhuvneshwar Kumar had Afridi caught at long-off. With the run-rate creeping up, Hafeez, who was looking to accelerate, was caught by Raina off Dinda. Then, a running catch by Kohli saw the back of Kamran Akmal.
With Pakistan needing 20 off six balls, Ishant Sharma conceded only 8 runs in the 20th over and claimed a wicket to help pull off a 11-run win.
Earlier, asked to bat first, the Indian openers picked up where they had left off in the previous game. Ajinkya Rahane found the fence with some superb drives, while Gautam Gambhir too cleared the in-field with ease. The flourishing partnership was halted for 44 by the experienced Umar Gul who held his nerve after being slammed for consecutive boundaries by Gambhir. He trapped the southpaw leg-before with a slower delivery. In Gul’s next over Rahane edged a short delivery off the toe of his bat back to the pacer. This brought two new batters, Virat Kohli and Yuvraj Singh, to the crease.
With Afridi and Saeed Ajmal bowling in tandem the Indian duo negotiated the bowlers watchfully while keeping the run-rate over seven. Kohli found the fence at regular intervals, but just as the stand began to take shape he was run out. Fortunately for India, that wicket didn’t cost them much as Dhoni then built a 97-run partnership with Yuvraj. Dhoni opened his account with a four over extra cover off Afridi, while Yuvraj who had till then bided his time at the crease, launched the bowler into the stands over mid-wicket to help India collect 17 from that over. The Indian batters then took the attack to the Pakistani bowlers in the last quarter claiming 74 runs from it.
Dhoni took Gul apart to pick fifteen from the 16th over. But it was Yuvraj’s systematic decimation of the bowling that helped India set a challenging target. Clearing the fence at will, the big-hitting left-hander smashed Sohail Tanvir over the boundary to bring up his fifty and became the first Indian to hit 50 sixes in T20Is. And in the penultimate over, he smashed three consecutive sixes off Ajmal to take India past 180. Although it looked like India would race to 200 with ease, Gul came back to claim both set batsmen. With Rohit Sharma picking four off a free hit India finished eight short of 200.
Man-of-the-Match: Yuvraj Singh for his blistering 72-run knock off 36 balls
Man-of-the-series: Mohammad Hafeez for his two crucial back-to-back half centuries
Brief scores: India 192/5 in 20 overs (Y Singh 72, MS Dhoni 33, A Rahane 28, U Gul 4/37) beat Pakistan 181/7 in 20 overs (M Hafeez 55, N Jamshed 41, A Dinda 3/36) by 11 runs