In thriller vs Pak, India make it a tail to remember
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With the ball, Harmeet fully justified his selection, taking one for 20 in his 10 overs. Now, his batting ability came under the spotlight.
Aparajith, the man
But before that, a bit on the big collapse. In conditions conducive to swing bowling in Townsville, Pakistan pacers Zia ul Haq and Ehsan Adil made life hell for the Indian top-order. Zia got Chand and Hanuma Vihari in consecutive overs, while Adil dismissed Prashant Chopra in between to leave India reeling at eight for three in five overs.
But that's when Vijay Zol and Baba Aparajith decided to take matters into their hands. They stole singles, found twos and shelved big hits.
At 74/3, Zol was run-out for 36 and Aparajith managed to put it behind him and claw India to 120, 17 runs from victory. Then he got caught at covers for 51, and four wickets fell in the space of seven runs, leaving Sandeep and Harmeet with the clean-up job.
"I always had confidence in Harmeet," said Chand. "He's definitely got some batting ability, and Sandeep, I knew, had a decent defence."
When Azizullah completed the 43rd over, he became the last of Pakistan's three seamers to finish his quota. Between them, he, Zia and Adil had taken eight of India's nine wickets. The other had been run out. It was now left-arm spin from both ends. Harmeet's assurance grew. Sandeep kept blocking.
"We just told them to play straight and take it till the end," said Arun. Maiden. Two runs. Two runs. One run. Four to get. A single to the left-handed Harmeet. Another single, worked to midwicket by Sandy. A slog-sweep from Harmeet, not timed particularly well, but directed into a vacant space on the leg side. Two runs. The Indians on the boundary edge could finally un-freeze.
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