Malik sees Pakistan through

India’s bowlers and fielders dished out a spirited performance while defending a not-good-enough 133, but couldn’t stop Pakistan from winning the first of two Twenty20 Internationals here yesterday.

The match was not without tension and drama going by Ishant Sharma and Kamran Akmal’s spat which only ended when the pacer’s teammates and umpire calmed things down at the Chinnaswamy Stadium. It could well cause Sri Lankan match referee Roshan Mahanama to penalise the two hot-heads.

Tension: Ishant Sharma and Pakistan’s Kamran Akmal in a heated argument during the first T20I in Bangalore yesterday

India lost their second Twenty20 game on the trot after Saturday’s loss to England.

Pakistan’s five-wicket victory was made possible by veteran and former captain Shoaib Malik, who stayed unbeaten on 57 (50 balls, 3x3, 3x6). Indian tennis star Sania Mirza’s husband put on 106 runs for the fourth wicket with his captain Mohammad Hafeez (61 off 44 balls).

Debutant pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar bowled a memorable spell and ended up with impressive figures of three for nine runs. He got rid of opener Nasir Jamshed, Ahmed Shehzad and the dangerous Umar Akmal.

Off the fourth ball in the final over Shoaib clouted Ravindra Jadeja for a six to seal the issue.

Earlier, Mumbai’s Ajinkya Rahane provided yet another fine batting display to prove his prowess as he helped India reach a total of 133.

Rahane’s 42 was embellished with five fours and a memorable six off spinner Saeed Ajmal which had the holiday crowd at the Stadium on Cloud Nine.

Rahane on fire
In the eighth over, Ajmal flighted one outside off-stump, and Rahane took his time to cart him over extra cover. Rahane could not reproduce the same kind of timing when he hit one in the same direction only to find Shahid Afridi’s experienced hands in the 11th over of the innings.

Gambhir at the other end began to look better after his initial struggles. Each time he stepped out, the Pakistani bowlers knew what they were in for. But he too had a disappointing end, run out by a fine throw. Gambhir’s 43 was scored off 41 balls.

There was nothing noteworthy from the rest of the batters. They lacked as much flair as gumption needed for a fast-paced game for which their experience is unmatchable thanks to the Indian Premier League.

However, it would be unfair to ignore the fine efforts of pacer Umar Gul (three for 21)and Ajmal (two for 25). Gul was particularly splendid as he came back after giving away 13 runs in his first over.

The most striking aspect about India’s innings was the collapse — from 77 for no loss to 133 for nine. Indeed, they paid the price. 

Brief scores
India 133-9 in 20 overs (Gautam Gambhir 43, Ajinkya Rahane 42; Umar Gul 3-21, Saeed Ajmal 2-25) lost to Pakistan 134-5 in 19.4 overs (Mohammad Hafeez 61, Shoaib Malik 57 not out; Bhuvneshwar Kumar 3-9) by five wickets.

No Pak fans in Bangalore stadium
Resumption of the much-hyped bilateral series for the shorter version of the game brought an upbeat Pakistan team to India after a gap of five years, but not hundreds of fans from across the border, as they could not get tickets for this match in time to secure visas and make travel arrangements.

“Though we were told initially that about 500 visas were earmarked for the Bangalore match, tickets for our fans did not come in time to apply for visas and travel all the way to south India. The Indian High Commission insisted on producing tickets and hotel reservations for granting visas. As it takes at least seven working days for completing the formalities, many fans kept away,” a Pakistan official accompanying the team told IANS. Barring the 16-member Pakistan squad and a dozen officials, absence of Pakistani fans in the stadium was conspicuous though the Karnataka State Cricket Association (KSCA) allotted a separate stand in the pavilion for a ring side view of the match on a green turf.

“We hope some of our fans will be able to make it for the three ODI series after the second T20 in Ahmedabad Dec 28. We are expecting a large turn out for the New Delhi game," he said.

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