Pakistan whips India by five wickets in first T20 thriller

Bangalore, Dec 25 (IANS) In a pulsating contest typical of any encounter between the arch rivals, Pakistan beat India by five wickets in the first T20 tie in a jam-packed Chinnaswamy stadium here late Tuesday.

Chasing a modest target of 134 runs, Pakistan registered its first victory against India in a T20 series when Shoaib Malik got the required six runs with a six in the 20th over, off Ravindra Jadeja.

Though Pakistan made a disastrous start losing three wickets in the first three overs to a fiery spell by debutant pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar from Uttar Pradesh, captain Mohammed Hafeez and Malik defied a spirited Indian attack to race towards the winning post with a 106-run fourth wicket partnership.

India's hopes of containing Pakistan after man of the match Hafeez was caught by Kumar off Ishant Sharma for 61 in the 18th over were dashed as Malik remained at the wicket to see through the innings with his 57 off 50 balls.

Dhoni's frantic attempts to break the Hafeez-Malik partnership with a combination of pace and spin didn't succeed as the experienced duo first settled down to open up in the middle overs and steadied the innings towards a thrilling victory in the last over.

Ashoke Dinda and Sharma shared one wicket each.

Pakistan's star all-rounder Shahid Afrdi, who came to bat in the last over after Kamran Akmal fell for one run in the 19th over, remained unbeaten with 3.

Earlier, put to bat first after Hafeez won the toss, India collapsed to a paltry 133 for 9 in the stipulated 20 over, as the middle order and tail-enders failed to capitalise on the solid start its openers Gautam Gambhir and Ajinkya Rahane gave with a 77-run partnership in the first 10 overs.

Making a cautious start, Gambhir (43 in 41 balls) and Rahane (42 in 31 balls) steadied the innings with quick running between the wickets and posted the first 50 in 6.5 overs that included the first six of the match by Gambhir.

Though Yuvraj Singh made a promising start by lifting Afridi for a huge six of the first ball he faced, he didn't survive long to contribute enough, as he was caught by Umar Akmal off Umar Gul's ball for 10 runs in nine balls.

Dashing hopes of die-hard fans in putting up a defendable score after a fine start, middle order batsmen Virat Kali (9), captain M.S. Dhoni (1), Suresh Raina (10), Rohit Sharma (2) and Ravindra Jadeja (2) fell like ninepins in a span of five overs, leaving India reduced to 124 for 8 from 102 for 2.

For Pakistan, pacer Gul and spinner Saeed Ajmal were the most successful bowlers as they snapped up 3 for 21 runs and 2 for 25 runs respectively, with Afridi and Mohammed Irfan sharing one wicket each, while two (Gambhir and Sharma) were run out.

The second and last T20 will be played at Ahmedabad Dec 28.

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