India romp to comprehensive win


Cochin, April 2:

Centuries by Virender Sehwag and Rahul Dravid set India up for a convincing 87-run win against Pakistan in the first one-day international, at Kochi.

Recovering from the loss of two early wickets, and despite slowing down in the slog overs, India made 281/8 in 50 overs. Pakistan lost four early wickets, and Sachin Tendulkar took five wickets in the middle overs as Pakistan crumbled to 194 in 45.2 overs.

India won the toss and batted first on a pitch that was a belter, but lost two wickets in the second over. Rana Naved-ul-Hasan dismissed Sachin Tendulkar for four and Sourav Ganguly for a first-ball duck, and India’s two batting heroes of the Test series, Sehwag and Dravid, found themselves at the crease with the score on 4 for 2. Then they added 201 runs.

Sehwag had a shaky start — he was dropped twice early in his innings, and played a few streaky strokes. But once he settled down, he launched into a flurry of boundaries.

Dravid’s innings was more controlled. His strokeplay was precise, he ran hard between the wickets, and India’s run-rate lifted to close to six-an-over. India were 205 for 2 at the end of the 35th over, but both batsmen were utterly exhausted by the heat. Sehwag, who had completed his century, was looking only to slog, and was duly bowled by Abdul Razzaq.

Dravid, meanwhile, was panting as he completed his runs, and lay down for a rest when a break in play happened. It was clearly time for the younger men to take over the onus of making big runs, but none of them managed to do so. Yuvraj Singh and Mohammad Kaif got their eye in and mishit slog-sweeps off Arshad Khan to be caught in the deep, and all the other wickets fell off slogging attempts, except Dravid’s. Dravid was run out for 104.

Salman Butt and Kamran Akmal opened Pakistan’s innings, and Butt hit some early boundaries as the bowlers gave him too much width. The pair added 45 runs in 39 balls before Akmal smashed Lakshmipathy Balaji straight to Sehwag at point. Four runs later, Ashish Nehra bowled a short ball on Butt’s hips, and Ganguly caught the resultant flick at square leg.

Shoaib Malik then smashed Balaji to Yuvraj at point. Four overs later, Zaheer Khan took a diving one-handed return catch to his right to get rid of Yousuf Youhana.

Inzamam-ul-Haq and Mohammad Hafeez added 48 useful runs in the highest partnership of the innings. Hafeez began slowly, but hit a couple of powerful sixes and used his feet well against the spinners. Once Inzamam was out, though, wickets fell steadily, and by the time Hafeez was the ninth man out, having top-scored with 42, victory was impossible.