Akram, Waqar end India's hopes

Published: Friday, January 28, 2000, 5:30 [IST]
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AFP PHOTOWasim Akram and Waqar Younis, the most feared and respected pace-twin of the modern era, drove India out of the three-nation ODI Series on Friday at Perth. India, chasing a victory target of 262, lost its top-half for just 33 runs by the 11th over to the seam-and-swing magic of the celebrated Pakistani duo. India's fate was thus sealed so early in its chase. However brief spells of gritty performances from the bottom half enabled India to survive till the 46th over for a total of 157.

The pacy Perth pitch, by tradition, offered an encouraging bounce. The guiles and wiles of Younis and Akram had a menacing effect on the top order. Sourav Ganguly, Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman and Sameer Dighe all were mesmerised by the fine art of this duo. Tendulkar again suffered a dubious decision, this time from umpire Simon Taufel. A superb swinging delivery on the off-stump line from Younis whizzed between Tendulkar's blade and body. There was an appeal from wicket-keeper Moin Khan who gathered the ball. Taufel had no hesitation in upholding the appeal. The television replays clearly suggested that the ball touched neither the bat nor the pad. Tendulkar, who was a victim of two bad decisions in the Test Series earlier, was visibly upset. He was, in fact, dealing with the two bowlers in grand fashion, smashing four boundaries in his 17. Anyway he had to go and with him evaporated India's hopes.

Earlier Younis dealt the first blow off the first ball of the second over. A well-directed outswinger foxed left-hander Ganguly, the most successful Indian batsman in this Series, and Moin Khan accepted the snick gleefully. Dravid was the third batsman out, almost in an identical fashion. This time it was Akram who forced him into error with a ball that went straight through, finding the edge of Dravid's blade. Laxman was stunned by an Akram yorker that crashed into his pads. Dighe did not know much about the swinging ball from Akram and Moin took his fourth catch of the innings.

So it was 33 for five by the 11th over. Very few teams in the world could have recovered to glory from such a situation. And the current Indian team that had lost three Test matches and six out of seven ODIs in this tour does not possess the kind of men and material to perform any miracle. So it was all over, after some spirited but brief spells of resistance.

India (with just two points) will meet Australia on Sunday at the same venue in its final league match. With Australia (12 points) and Pakistan (8) having made the final already, the result would have no significance. Earlier Pakistan, after winning toss, made 261 for 8 in 50 overs. India, as was seen on most occasions in this tour, fielded only four regular bowlers. Ajit Agarkar, who missed two earlier matches owing to injury, replaced Mohanty to join Javagal Srinath, Venkatesh Prasad and Anil Kumble. Agarkar was an utter failure today.

His final figures read 8-0-60-0. That naturally upset the balance and rhythm of the attack. Pakistan made merry and maintained a run rate in the range of 5 to 6 per over. Only Ganguly, the fifth bowler, sparkled (10-1-34-3) to reduce the run-rate between the 25th to 40th overs. Off those 15 overs, only 61 runs came. However, Pakistan took 55 runs off the last 10 overs to post a total that was good enough for its strong bowling department. No Pakistan batsman came up with any big score.

But brisk efforts from Saeed Anwar (44 off 48), Shahid Afridi (41 off 55) and Inzamam-ul-Haq (35 off 42) kept Pakistan's hopes of reaching a good total alive. Of course, the Indian attack that lacked variety made the work of the Pakistan batting line-up lighter.

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