Pakistan's light in darkness

SALMAN BUTT AND SACHIN TENDULKAR (below) scored hundreds. While Butt had the satisfaction of seeing his team win, Tendulkar had to seek solace in his milestone of 14,000 ODI runs.-AP SALMAN BUTT AND SACHIN TENDULKAR (below) scored hundreds. While Butt had the satisfaction of seeing his team win, Tendulkar had to seek solace in his milestone of 14,000 ODI runs.

The Indians did not take their chances. The Pakistani fielders were seen congratulating each other as they walked back. Their body language told the tale, writes S. Dinakar.

There was a surreal touch to the final moments, played under near darkness at the Arbab Niaz Stadium. But then, there was light for Pakistan in the form of a positive verdict. The host clinched the opening ODI by seven runs under the Duckworth-Lewis method in Peshawar, taking a 1-0 lead in the five-match Hutch Cup series.

Like in the Karachi Test, the Indians did not take their chances. A side that was roaring along at 266 for three after 40 overs was bowled out for 328 with two deliveries remaining. The last five overs produced just 23 runs. When the Pakistani fielders walked back, they were seen congratulating each other. Their body language told the tale. On a belter of a wicket, a fast outfield and a small ground, Pakistan, with its depth in batting, always had a great chance of winning the contest. In fact, the biggest threat for the home side was the weather. However, Inzamam-ul-Haq's men ensured that the team stayed ahead of the run-rate under the Duckworth-Lewis method. "The light was quite bad. It wasn't easy to pick the ball. The umpires tried to keep the game going, we brought the spinners on and tried to hurry things up. In the end it got worse," said Indian captain Rahul Dravid.

When the match concluded with Younis Khan and Rana Naved-ul-Hasan accepting the offer of light, Pakistan, chasing 329 in 50 overs, was 311 for seven in 47. Standing out in the Pakistani chase was opener Salman Butt's 101 (111b, 15x4) and the classy Shoaib Malik's 90 (67b, 9x4, 3x6) at No. 3.

Butt, named Man of the Match, is a southpaw who is extremely fluent off his legs. He has an adequate range of options on the off-side as well. For such a big hitter, Malik is elegant in his methods. He launched into some spectacular off-drives, whipped the ball off his legs, and struck some stunning blows down the ground. Butt and Malik should string together a lot more partnerships for Pakistan in the days to come.

This was a game in which Sachin Tendulkar found some form after a forgettable Test series. During the course of his 39th hundred, he became the first batsman to cross 14,000 runs in ODIs. Bowled off a Rana Naved-ul-Hasan no-ball in the early stages of the innings, Tendulkar relied on his experience and determination to make a sizable contribution. He played second fiddle to Irfan Pathan and Mahendra Singh Dhoni, and opened out later before being undone while attempting a reverse sweep against off-spinner Arshad Khan.

S. SUBRAMANIUM

The Indian think-tank sent in Pathan at No. 3 and Dhoni at No. 4 to lengthen the batting line-up of the team, which was playing one batsman less. With Mohammad Kaif arriving at No. 7, the batting seemed to have more depth. However, India lacked an explosive batsman at the finish.

Pathan (65, 65b, 12x4, 1x6) radiated confidence in the middle. Dhoni boomed to a 53-ball 68 (11x4, 1x6) before Malik's brilliant catch at point ended his innings.

Yuvraj Singh whipped up a 28-ball 39. But both Yuvraj and Tendulkar were dismissed before the 45th over, which left India struggling at the finish.

India was asked to bat, after Inzamam called right. Pakistani pacemen Rana Naved-ul-Hasan and Mohammad Asif deserve much credit for pegging India back. Rana bowled a fullish length at the end and got the ball to reverse swing.

The impressive Asif was the outstanding bowler of the match. The lanky paceman hit the seam consistently and bowled an exemplary line. His figures of three for 30 off 9.4 overs eventually proved the difference between the two sides.

The Indians were right when they opted for a five-man attack; in the absence of the injured Harbhajan Singh, Murali Kartik would be the lone specialist spinner in the line-up. It was hard going for the bowlers, but S. Sreesanth did work up some pace and Irfan Pathan, after his batting stint, sent down 10 overs at a stretch in the beginning of the Pakistani innings in a creditable display.

There was a moment of controversy and drama when Inzamam was ruled out for obstructing the field. The Pakistan captain, who was at least two yards outside the crease, showed a defensive bat to a throw from cover. Inzamam, who appeared upset, entered into a conversation with the umpires before departing into the pavilion. Dravid was forthright about the dismissal.

"We were trying to run him out. He was well out of the crease and he blocked a throw. It is for the umpires to decide."

The Indians got the Pakistani captain, but let the match slip away.

THE SCORES

First ODI, Peshawar, February 6. Pakistan won by 7 runs (D-L Method.

India: V. Sehwag c Akmal b Asif 5; S. R. Tendulkar lbw b Arshad Khan 100; I. K. Pathan c (sub) b Naved-ul-Hasan 65; M. S. Dhoni c Malik b Asif 68; Yuvraj Singh c Khan b Razzaq 39; R. Dravid lbw b Naved-ul-Hasan 18; M. Kaif c Butt b Asif 8; A. B. Agarkar run out 3; Z. Khan c Yousuf b Naved-ul-Hasan 5; M. Kartik lbw b Naved-ul-Hasan 1; S. Sreesanth not out 0; Extras (b-5, lb-2, w-3, nb-6) 16; Total (49.4 overs) 328.

Fall of wickets: 1-5, 2-99, 3-225, 4-285, 5-305, 6-309, 7-315, 8-321, 9-324.

Pakistan bowling: Naved-ul-Hasan 10-0-62-4; Asif 9.4-2-30-3; Gul 3-0-35-0; Razzaq 10-0-70-1; Afridi 10-0-68-0; Khan 5-0-35-1; Malik 2-0-21-0.

Pakistan: S. Butt c Dravid b Kartik 101; K. Akmal c (sub) b Sreesanth 25; S. Malik c Dravid b Khan 90; S. Afridi run out 17; M. Yousuf c Khan b Agarkar 17; Inzamam-ul-Haq obstructing the field 16; Y. Khan not out 18; A. Razzaq c Dhoni b Agarkar 4; Naved-ul-Hasan not out 11; Extras (lb-1, w-9, nb-2) 12; Total (7 wkts, 47 overs) 311.

Fall of wickets: 1-50, 2-201, 3-232, 4-244, 5-265, 6-289, 7-299.

India bowling: Pathan 10-0-52-0; Sreesanth 10-0-75-1; Khan 8-0-50-1; Agarkar 9-0-58-2; Kartik 9-0-64-1; Sehwag 1-0-11-0.

India super sub: S. K. Raina (S. R. Tendulkar, Pakistan innings, 0.0 ov); Pakistan super sub: Arshad Khan (Umar Gul, India innings, 25.0 ov).

INZAMAM-UL-HAQ talks to the umpires after being declared out obstructing the field.-S. SUBRAMANIUM

FOURTH OBSTRUCTION

When Inzamam-ul-Haq, well out of his crease, swatted away a gentle lob from Suresh Raina directed at the stumps in Peshawar he had the dubious distinction of being the fourth batsman dismissed for obstructing the field. Inzamam later said he did not know the rule and has been scoffed at by scribes and former players.

There have been three previous such dismissals recorded, two of which have been in ODIs and the other in a Test match. Ramiz Raja was the first batsman dismissed for obstructing the field in an ODI. The incident happened when England played Pakistan at the National Stadium in Karachi on November 20, 1987. England had made 263 and Pakistan was 240 for 7 with the last ball of the match to be bowled. Raja (99) would have carried his bat through Pakistan's innings had he remained not out but in his anxiety to reach the three-figure mark off the last ball, he desperately tried to get the run and in the process hit the ball with his bat to avoid being run-out.

Mohinder Amarnath was dismissed in a similar manner when India played Sri Lanka in Ahmedabad on October 22, 1989. Mohinder was batting on 28 when he kicked the ball away from the bowler to avoid being run-out. India won that match by six runs. Mohinder also was declared out when he handled the ball in the Benson and Hedges WSC tournament against Australia in the match played on February 9, 1986.

Sir Leonard Hutton is the only player to be out under Law 37 in a Test match. In the second innings of the match against South Africa at the Kennington Oval in August 1951, Hutton top-edged a delivery from Athol Rowan. With the ball heading towards his stumps, the ace England opener hit it away, thus preventing wicketkeeper E. R. Endean from taking the catch.

D. Ravi Shankar from Bangalore