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Pakistan sets a target of 240 for India

Guwahati, Nov 5 (UNI) Indian spinners restricted Pakistan for 239 for seven in the alloted 50 overs even as veteran Mohammed Yousuf and opener Salman Butt carved out elegant half centuries in the first ODI being played here.

Sachin Tendulkar emerged as the unlikely bowling hero picking up two crucial wickets after Murali Kartik and Harbhajan Singh kept the Pakistani middle order under tight leash for most of the innings.

Had it not been Mohammed Yusuf (83) and Salman Butt (50), the visitors would have been in deep trouble as spinners never let the Pakistani batsmen to open their arms throughout the innings.

Yousuf held the Pakistan innings together for most of the time, playing another of his trade mark innings which made him the most reliable player in the Pakistan batting line up.

He completed his 58th half century in style with seven boundaries. But it was Murali Kartik who led the Indian bowling attack. Although he did not get any wicket but he was the pick of the Indian bowler, troubling the experience duo of Yousuf and Younis and gave enough confidence to skipper Dhoni to use Tendulkar as the third spinner in the last leg of the Pakistan innings, when he picked up two crucial wickets -- first the dangerous Sahid Afiridi and then captain Shoaib Malik within a span of just seven balls.

So strong was the grip of both Murali and Harbhajan in the middle over that when Pakistan batsmen tried to accelerate the score in the last 15th over, Tendulkar emerged as the main strike bowler with his vicious leg spin.

He systematically brought Sahid Afiridi out of the crease and Dhoni had no problem in stumping him, to see the back of the most destructive batsmen in the Pakistan line up.

Tendulkar then got the wicket of captain Shoaib Malik. In his bid to accelerate the innings Malik went for big hits in the fourth ball of Tendulkar's over only to give a simple catch to Gautam Gambhir at deep mid wicket.

Earlier in the morning, Zaheer Khan began the Indian bowling attack with an inspid first over giving away as many as 11 runs, but things settled down after the initial couple of overs and Irfan Pathan taking the first scalp when he sent back dangerous Kamran Akmal.

Akmal went for a massive heave and the change of pace did the trick for Pathan as the slow ball hit the back leg of Akmal and he was adjudged LBW when Pakistan just looked like going for a big opening partnership.

Experienced Younis Khan then joined Salman Butt, who has a habbit of coming good against India. He played with elegant and poise, handling the Indian seamers with ease.

But just after completing his fourth half century of his career he went for a senseless run and Yuvraj-Dhoni combination got him run out.

His departure put a break to the Pakistan innings as both Kartik and Harbhajan spun a web around the experienced duo of Younis Khan and Mohammed Yusuf.

The ball was turning and it took all the experience of Harbhajan to draw Younis out of the crease and his aerial shot could not clear Irfan Pathan at long off.


Read more about: sportscricketindia
Story first published: Monday, November 5, 2007, 14:05 [IST]
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