x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Malik ton helps Pakistan see off rivals

A classy century from Shoaib Malik helps Pakistan win the battle of Asia's cricket giants with a 54-run Champions Trophy victory over India.

A classy century from Shoaib Malik helped Pakistan win the battle of Asia's cricket giants with a 54-run Champions Trophy victory over India at Supersport Park. The all-rounder made 128 in a massive 206-run partnership with Mohammad Yousuf (87) - a tournament record for any wicket - to help their side set a daunting 303 for victory. In reply, the Indians were well ahead of the asking rate for at least 35 overs thanks to half-centuries from Gautam Gambhir (57) and Rahul Dravid (76), but they lost their way and eventually finished on 248 all out with 5.1 overs remaining. After winning the toss and electing to bat, Pakistan survived an early scare when Imran Nazir was almost run out at the non-striker's end while stealing a quick single off Ashish Nehra (four for 55) - Suresh Raina putting his throw from the covers inches wide. However, the batsman survived and went on to blast 20 from just 17 balls before he top-edged the same paceman and was snapped up by Harbhajan Singh. The 50 was raised in 43 deliveries, but Kamran Akmal then unnecessarily dragged on from Nehra leaving his side at 53 for two in the ninth over. Malik and Younus Khan found scoring almost impossible thereafter and it told with the loss of the captain (20), who was drawn into an edge by RP Singh with Mahendra Singh Dhoni doing the rest. But Yousuf joined Malik as the pair began to slowly rebuild. They brought up the 50 partnership from 72 balls, followed by the century stand in 119 balls. Both also reached their 50s shortly after - Yousuf from 55 balls and Malik off 81 - as they refused to give the Indian bowlers any respite. They crossed 150 as a pair in 156 balls, before Malik brought up his seventh one-day hundred from 108 balls with a neat cut shot off Harbhajan to third man boundary. After bringing up the 200-run fourth-wicket partnership, Yusuf was bowled by Nehra which was followed by Shahid Afridi (four) and Umar Akmal (nought) succumbing cheaply. Malik's126-ball knock eventually came to an end in the penultimate over when he lifted Harbhajan to Yusuf Pathan at long-on as his side posted 302 for nine. India were dealt an early blow in response, losing Sachin Tendulkar - the veteran batsman nicking Mohammad Aamer (two for 46) to Kamran Akmal behind the stumps for eight. His opening partner Gambhir steadied the ship, though, and together with Dravid brought up the half-century stand and his own 50 from 36 balls with a golf-style six over the mid-wicket fence. But he unnecessarily stepped out of his crease looking for a single and was run out courtesy of an excellent direct hit from Younus fielding at mid-off. Afridi (two for 39) was then introduced into the attack and Pakistan's Twenty20 captain struck two telling blows in his first three overs sending Virat Kohli (16) and captain Dhoni (three) on their way to reduce India to 133 for four in the 24th over. Dravid continued to anchor the innings with his 50 brought up in 74 balls and together with Raina put on 72 in just under 11 overs to keep their side in the mix. Saeed Ajmal finally broke the partnership when he trapped Raina lbw for 46 and needing 98 from the final 90 balls, Gary Kirsten's men wilted under pressure - another needless mix-up between Harbhajan and Dravid, who lost his wicket in the process, summing up their night. *PA Sport