India’s 260 for nine beat Pakistan’s 231 by 29 runs in the semifinal in Mohali. India’s batting was lackluster, but enough to defeat Pak. On-field performance by India was much more impressive. The field demonstration lived-up to the pre-match hype that called this the “Match of the Decade.”
Not all fans agree. Spectator TRAM commented, “Fielding needs to be good (for both teams) to make a high quality cricket. Today, Pak fielding & Bowling and Ind batting (barring Sehwag) made the quality of match very low. When Aus was at their peak they provided very high quality cricket – fielding & bowling especially. How I wish SA had the mental toughness to over come choking problem.”
A mini-battle came in the form of Umar Gul against Virender Sehwag. The showdown of leading Pakistani fast bowler and a leading slayer of fast bowling was ended by Sehwag. It was the third over of the innings, Gul’s second. The first two balls were straight, too straight. After they were dispatched to the leg-side boundary fields were changed. Slips came out, yet Sehwag casually picked off three boundaries in a 21-run over. Gul never recovered.
Pak opted for Riaz over Akhtar. Riaz ended with a maiden five-wicket haul. No doubt, Aktar was proud. Thee Hafeez moment came when Patel pitched one well outside off, on a length. Hafeez tried to somehow paddle it over his left shoulder. It took an edge to be safely pouched by MS Dhoni. No wonder Hafeez has and ODI average of just over 23.
Ashish Nehra replaced Ashwin. Nehra and his team made a promising start and reached 70 for 1, building the pressure for Pakistan’s batsmen. The Indians strung together dot balls and tight overs. They didn’t give anything away until over 37. The most important breakthrough was Harbhajan Singh’s bowling Umar Akmal for 29. Dhoni called Singh to replace when Akmal had struck a pair of sixes off Yuvraj. Afridi also fell to Singh.
Pakistan was disappointed; their top order had originally given them hope. The Mohali crowd was riled up soon after Shafiq’s loss. Asad Shafiq had made 30, but the run-rate was too much. Pakistan never recovered.
Tendulkar had two close calls on 23, an lbw reviewed to be spinning down leg and on the next delivery he just barely got his back foot down in time after losing balance on a reach. Tendulkar – usually a fine batsman – dropped on 27, 45, 70, and 81, leaving spectators to wonder if he was just lucky. Misbah was the first to put him down. Then Khan. Then Akmal was slow on the draw.
India has reserved their place in the ICC Cricket World Cup final. I guess we’ll see if they can continue their run with their first World Cup in 28 years.