Disciplined bowling and fielding saw India outclass Pakistan in a tension-filled semi-finals to register a convincing 30-run victory at jam-packed Mohali stadium. Several dignitaries of both the countries – host nation Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh and his special invitee and Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Gilani, besides the UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul Gandhi, besides a galaxy of Bollywood stars and Corporate giants like Ambanis and Wadias were all there to cheer the teams.
Though India with such strong batting line-up failed to set up a big total, yet their bowlers succeeded in defending the reachable total of 260.
Chasing the target, Pakistan was bowled out for 230 for nine in 49.3 overs. It was Zaheer Khan who helped to get rid off the dangerous Kamran Akmal, caught by Yuvraj Singh at backward point for 19 off 21 balls. The other opener, Mohammed Hafeez too fell with Pakistan’s total at 70, caught behind by MS Dhoni off Munaf Patel for 43 off 59 balls. Asad Shafiq was bowled by Yuvraj Singh for 30 off 39 balls as the pressure of the limited runs started to tell.
Younus Khan fell in Yuvraj’s next over, driving to Suresh Raina at mid-off after scoring 13.
Umar Akmal fell after threatening to take the match away from India as he unleashed a counterattack against Yuvraj Singh, hitting two sixes from the left arm spinner. However, after adding 36 runs with Misbah Ul-Haq, Umar was clean bowled off the first ball after the second drinks break by a faster one by Harbhajan Singh. He scored 29 off 23 balls.
Munaf Patel soon bowled Abdul Razzaq off a leg cutter for 3. Harbhajan struck again in the 42nd over as Shahid Afridi, who also threatened to play a strong hand, skied to Virender Sehwag for 19 off 17 balls. Wahab Riaz fell in the 45th over for 8, caught Sehwag off Ashish Nehra. Umar Gul did not last long as Ashish Nehra, in brilliant bowling form, trapped him plumb in front for 2. Ashsish Nehra finished his spell of 10 overs with brilliant figures of 2 for 33. Misbah Ul-Haq was at one end through all this time, compiling runs in too slow a pace to really threaten. He did start to open up later, in the latter half of the batting power play that was taken in the 46th over.
Pakistan went into the 49th over needing 37 off 12 balls and Misbah on 49 off 67 balls. He hit six off the first ball of the penultimate over to reach his fifty, but lost the strike off the fifth ball.
Pakistan needed 30 runs off the last over, bowled by Zaheer Khan. Misbah refused a run off the first ball, leaving five balls, all of which had to be hit for six. As Misbah missed the next ball, India was into the final against Sri Lanka. The end came as Misbah Ul-Haq lifted a catch into the hands of Virat Kohli off the penultimate ball.
Earlier, Wahab Riaz took a career-best 5-46 as Pakistan restricted India to a reachable 260-9 despite an atrocious fielding performance in Wednesday’s high-stakes World Cup semifinal.
The left-arm pacer struck at crucial junctures, accounting for a dangerous looking Virender Sehwag (38)and an in-form Yuvraj Singh among others, as the famed Indian batting struggled against his swing.
Pakistan also made Sachin Tendulkar wait for his 100th international century despite dropping the world’s best batsman four times. Tendulkar also had an lbw decision overturned on referral and survived a close stumping appeal in what has to be one of his luckiest innings ever.
Tendulkar produced a scratchy 85 off 115 balls with 11 fours even as Riaz pegged back the Indian middle order with the dismissals of Virat Kohli (nine) and Yuvraj (zero) off successive deliveries. The other Indian batsmen got out cheaply. Kohli was caught at point and Yuvraj was bowled off a swinging full toss, while captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni was trapped lbw by Riaz a little later for 25.
Many thought, Indian skipper made a mistake in replacing in-form spinner Ashwin with Nehra. But, he proved right as Nehru came out with stellar performance. Similarly, the other faux pas of Dhoni was chose to bat on winning the toss, instead chasing the total, considering the team’s poor bowling strength. Yet again, all Indian bowlers had disciplined spells, except an over of Zaheer.