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The Barbados Nation India win big one
Tony Cozier - 8 June 1999

MANCHESTER - Amidst an electrifying atmosphere that gave true meaning to the 'carnival of cricket', India beat Pakistan by 47 runs yesterday in a low-scoring Super Sixes match crucial to both teams.

Only the bone-chilling weather that demanded swaddling clothes indicated the venue was Manchester, not Karachi nor Calcutta.

The open stands were a sea of flags and banners in the green of Pakistan and the green, white and gold of India. Drums beat, whistles blew and voices roared at the slightest inkling of action on the field even though action was in relatively short supply in a match that yielded only 417 runs from its 95.3 overs.

It was a throwback to the days before corporate boxes and exorbitant, pre-sold tickets when West Indians flocked to Test matches in England in similar numbers and celebrated with similar abandon.

India's 227 for six from their 50 overs seemed inadequate, especially as the left-handed Saeed Anwar gave Pakistan's reply a flying start.

But high-class fast bowling by two tall pacers - Venkatesh Prasad and Javagal Srinath - stifled the Pakistanis, bowled them out for 189 midway through their 46th over and committed them to their third successive defeat. Prasad was named Man-Of-The-Match for his five for 27 from 9.3 overs, while partner Srinath bagged three for 37.

Beaten by Bangladesh in their last group match and by South Africa in the first in the Super Sixes, Pakistan have four points, with Zimbabwe still to play at the Oval on Friday.

Victory there would assure Pakistan a semifinal place but their recent setbacks have shattered their confidence and it is not a foregone conclusion.

India, beaten by Australia in their Super Sixes opener, earned their first two points and kept alive their faint hopes of a berth in the semis. Their last match is against New Zealand at Trent Bridge on Saturday.

Mohammed Azharuddin chose to bat on winning the toss on an outfield that, after two days of constant rain, showed no obvious signs of the ankle-deep pools around its outskirts overnight, and on a pitch that proved hard and true.

India's innings only shifted from second gear through third to fourth over the last 10 overs, after Azharuddin was joined by the left-handed Robin Singh.

Azharuddin made 59 off 77 balls with a six and three fours, his best innings of the tournament, while Singh made a quickfire 16 that included sixes off Saqlain Mushtaq's off-spin.

With the consistent left-handed opener Saurav Ganguly missing with a knee injury, India depended even more heavily than usual for their momentum from Sachin Tendulkar and for their solidity on Rahul Dravid.

Tendulkar stuck a few authentic boundaries with a straight drive and a couple of pulls, but he was not at his best. He took 65 balls over 45 and then lost concentration and patience, charging down to medium-pacer Azhar Mahmood and carelessly slapping a catch to deep, wide mid-off.

He left at 95 for two in the 21st over, a shock to the Indian system. It was 20 overs before Azharuddin struck another boundary.

In the interim, Ajay Jadeja fell to Mahmood at 101 and Dravid and the captain spent 15.2 overs adding 51 to steady the innings.

Aware that more urgent methods were needed, Dravid drove through the line in Wasim Akram's second spell and fell to Shahid Afridi's sharp catch at extra-cover. He accumulated 61 off 89 balls.

Azharuddin and Singh then accelerated through the closing overs, but Azharuddin conceded afterwards that he was concerned that India's total was 25 runs short of what was required.

Pakistan's response was a strange concoction.

Afridi was quickly out to Srinath in the third over, but the left-handed Saeed Anwar belted a succession of boundaries that hinted at an early finish.

Once the experienced Ijaz Ahmed edged Srinath low to Azahruddin at second slip in the 10th over, with the total 44 for two, an immediate and decisive change came over the game.

Two maidens followed, the Indian bowling found compelling control of length and line, and Pakistan lost their way.

Prasad removed Salim Malik and Anwar in quick succession and the usually forthright Inazamam ul-Haq was so becalmed that he needed 93 balls over 41.

When he and the dangerous wicket-keeper Moin Khan were together, adding 46, the type of late-order blitz that has become a hallmark of Pakistan's innings in the tournament was likely.

Moin busied himself for 33 off 37 balls in a stand of 46 before Prasad, in his final spell, removed both. The pacer finished off the match by inducing Wasim Akram to sweep into Anil Kumble's hands at deep square-leg.

It was the signal for Indian celebrations of only their second win in their last 12 One-Dayers against the old enemy.

Source: The Barbados Nation
Editorial comments can be sent to The Barbados Nation at nationnews@sunbeach.net