x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Younis ton stuns favourites India

Pakistan reinforced the accepted belief that they are never more dangerous than when in a deep state of crisis.

Younis Khan on his way to an unbeaten 123 to upset India.
Younis Khan on his way to an unbeaten 123 to upset India.

KARACHI // Pakistan reinforced the accepted belief that they are never more dangerous than when in a deep state of crisis by claiming an unexpected win over India at the National Stadium in Karachi tonight. The Asia Cup hosts permanently seem to be in dire straits. They went into the match against their fiercest rivals with their coach, Geoff Lawson, on the brink of losing his job on the back of poor form and after falling out with his nation's cricket press. They also had a new captain in Misbah-ul-Haq, after the permanent skipper Shoaib Malik ? who is also said to have a tenuous grip on his post ? failed to pass his pre-match fitness test. Lawson had likened Malik's hotel room to a hospital ward in the build-up, due to the amount of equipment installed to treat two bouts of dehydration in the past week. He succumbed to exhaustion six minutes into his pointless fitness test in the blazing heat before the game, leaving his misfiring side in Misbah's hands. The situation even managed to get worse before it got better. Virender Sehwag (49) and Gautam Gambhir (35), India's on-song opening pair, racked up an 88 run opening stand by midway through the 11th over. Three quick wickets checked India's progress, but Mahendra Dhoni and Rohit Sharma rebuilt with stylish half-centuries as they amassed 308 for seven from their 50 overs. That sort of target proved way beyond Pakistan last time out, when they were outplayed by Sri Lanka. However, they were not up against Muttiah Muralitharan this time, and the Indian attack looked limp in comparison. The vocal Pakistan fans were then left thanking the heavens for Younis Khan, whose century was the bedrock of their successful chase. Misbah, the stand-in captain also played a fine hand. His half-century arrived from just 45 balls and served as a reminder of his growing importance to the Pakistan batting line-up. The tournament's schedulers were given another clear message that playing in the heat of summer in Pakistan is not a sensible option, when Nasir Jamshed succumbed to cramp, after he had started the reply in bold fashion. Jamshed is just 18-years-old, yet this is already his fourth season in first-class cricket. He signalled that he may be the blockbusting opening batsman which this Pakistan side craves, to compliment Salman Butt at the start of the innings, with a brisk 53. When he was forced to retire hurt, Pakistan's chase might have faltered, if not for Younis, who ended unbeaten on 123 as he guided his side to a comprehensive eight-wicket win with four and a half overs to spare.