Pakistan win practice match against Delhi

Friday, November 2, 2007

Pakistan made the most of their only warm-up game ahead of the five-match ODI series against India by easing to a seven-wicket win over Delhi at the Feroz Shah Kotla. Shoaib Malik's decision to exploit conditions suited for swing movement worked in his favour, as his bowlers, inspired by surprise package Younis Khan, restricted Delhi to 213 for 9. Salman Butt then led the chase with a stylishly brisk 83 before he retired hurt, but the middle order knocked off the runs with 44 balls remaining.

Umar Gul dealt the first blow when he had Gautam Gambhir caught in his crease in the second over, but it was Younis, bowling gentle slow-medium pace, who extracted good swing and shocked Delhi. Younis trapped opener Aakash Chopra leg-before for a 42-ball 16 and bowled captain Mithun Manhas first ball with one that pitched and came in. Imran Nazir ran out Virat Kohli for 8 and the hosts were 46 for 4.

Delhi rallied around a 91-run fifth-wicket partnership between Rajat Bhatia and Shikhar Dhawan but a slew of wickets down the order brought the visitors right back into the game. Dhawan was watchful but confident, and looked set for a big score when Younis hit back to run him out for 52 from 80 balls. From here the spinners, Fawad Alam and Shahid Afridi, nipped out the lower order. Bhatia played the fast bowlers well, hooking and cutting Shoaib Akhtar for powerful boundaries. He was run out going for a suicidal single to short third man and it was left to Gaurav Chabra's slogging to get the score above 200.

In reply, Nazir slammed 34 from 22 balls even as out-of-form wicketkeeper-batsman Kamran Akmal endured another poor score. After Nazir was removed by Amit Bhandari, the medium-pacer with national experience, Butt and Misbah-ul-Haq added 116. Butt, who did not play any of Pakistan's five ODIs against South Africa recently, was strong either side of the pitch. His cutting and driving were especially good, and he opened up with a flurry of boundaries against the medium-pacers.

He did not slow down much after his half-century but left the field when on 83 from 84 balls. With victory in sight Misbah drove Pradeep Sangwan towards mid-off, where Gambhir plucked off an excellent catch, diving backwards to his right as the ball was passing him. Yasir Hameed finished the affair with an unbeaten 30 as Pakistan cashed in on their only chance to acclimatise themselves before the first one-dayer in Guwahati on Monday.

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Will Pakistan Premier League gain success just like Indian Premier League ?