x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

India v Pakistan: Shoaib Malik helps fire Pakistan's five-wicket win

India and Pakistan renew their testy rivalry with a Twenty20 match at Bangalore, with Pakistan narrowly earning early bragging rights.

Cricket enthusiasts had been forced to wait five years for a scheduled tour match between India and Pakistan.

The teams showed just what everyone had been missing Tuesday night.

A six from Shoaib Malik from the fourth ball of the final over in Bangalore gave Pakistan a five-wicket victory in the opening Twenty20 game of the two-match series after their batsmen had briefly threatened to undo the good work of their bowlers.

An outstanding spell of medium pace bowling from the Indian debutant Bhuvneshwar Kumar had left Pakistan reeling as he took three wickets for nine runs to leave them faltering on 12 for three in pursuit of 134 to win.

But Shoaib (57 not out) and the Pakistan captain Mohammad Hafeez (61) held their nerve as they put on 106 in 14 overs for the fourth wicket to turn the tide and give Pakistan the victory.

A relieved Shoaib acknowledged he had felt the enormity of the situation as he and Hafeez set about rescuing the visitors.

"You are playing against India, pressure is always there, but you have to play according to the situation," he said in a post-match television interview.

A Pakistan win had looked unlikely, initially, as after being put in by Hafeez, the India openers Gautam Gambhir (43) and Ajinkya Rahane (42) made a good start, putting on 78 for the first wicket.

This came off the first 10 overs, and while it was not rapid progress, a platform had been set for India to go on to get a score of more than 160.

Unfortunately for the partisan home crowd they could only watch in horror as the Pakistan attack, led by Umar Gul (three for 21) and Saeed Ajmal (two for 25), took apart the Indian line-up, with only 58 runs coming in the second 10 overs of the innings.

The key moment was arguably the run out of Gambhir. Looking well set, he was well short of his ground trying to steal a second run and with Rahane having gone 10 balls earlier, Pakistan had their opening with two new batsmen at the crease.

Despite some attempts to force the pace, with Yuvraj Singh (10) hitting his first ball for a six, India struggled, Mohammad Irfan (one for 25), Sohail Tanvir (nought for 22) and Shahid Afridi (one for 26) all proving frugal.

India limped to 133 for nine, but that looked as if it would be more than enough when Kumar's pace proved too hot for Nasir Jamshed (two), Ahmed Shehzad (five) and Umar Akmal for a duck.

But led by Hafeez, who struck six boundaries and two sixes, Pakistan fought back, and even though Hafeez fell to Ishant Sharma and Kamran Akmal (one) was also dismissed, Shoaib and Afridi saw them home.

Hafeez, the man of the match, said: "It is a great effort, we wanted to do well at the start of the series.

"We knew that we had a good attack. We knew that Gul is always good with the old ball, they restricted India where we wanted them to. Once the spinners came on after the new ball, we knew we had a chance. It is a gift for the whole nation."

MS Dhoni, the India captain, said: "We got a good start, fantastic effort by the openers, we kept losing wickets after that, and we were 10 or 15 runs short.

The second T20 game is in Ahmedabad on Friday.


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