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The Electronic Telegraph India v Pakistan, Match Report
9 March 1996

India blitz stuns Pakistan

India (287-8) beat Pakistan (249-9) by 39 runs

India, often mediocre in reaching the knockout stages, rose thrillingly to a momentous World Cup occasion in Bangalore yesterday by defeating Pakistan, to them as big an adversary as can exist in sport, by 39 runs.

Whatever they produce when they meet Sri Lanka - and a certain Mr Jayasuriya - in Calcutta on Wednesday they will struggle to match this intense, emotional encounter.

Pakistan, the holders, made a gallant attempt to reach their huge target of 288 in what became 49 overs because of their own dila- tory over-rate, but they could not quite scale the heights of the inspired Indian batsmen.

This is the World Cup final, read one banner in the 55,000 crowd, and no-one present at the Chinnaswamy Stadium's first floodlit match was prepared to disagree. The atmosphere was extraordinary for the first game between these teams on Indian soil for seven years in the city where Pakistan, famously, clinched a Test series under

Imran Khan in 1987.

Pakistan, who insisted they were happy to travel for their quarter-final, had looked the more relaxed at Friday's pre-match reception, but a shattering blow was dealt them when Wasim Akram, their captain and man of the match in the 1992 World Cup final, declared himself unfit, the side injury he sustained against New Zealand on Wednesday proving more serious than he had let on.

The confidence so evident in the build-up seemed to evaporate from Pakistan the moment

Akram's stand-in, Aamir Sohail, lost the toss. Yet, whatever pressure they felt as an enormous roar greeted the Indian openers, it was nothing to that which nestled on the boyish shoulders of India's brightest star.

Sachin Tendulkar had coped admirably with the great expectations of a nation during the World Cup, but this passionate affair was something that even he had never experienced. As a result he nev- er looked his usual self.

The initiative, instead, passed to one of the lower profile members of the Indian side. Navjot Sidhu, unlike many of his team-mates, never appears on any of the countless television ad- vertisments that see Indian cricketers endorse anything from soft drinks to credit cards.

Sidhu, with a runner after injuring his leg, had hit and hobbled his way to 93 when he fell to a Mushtaq Ahmed flipper, but it was enough to earn him the man of the match award and set the parti- san stage for a final Indian flourish that took the match away from their arch-rivals.

Ajay Jadeja prefers to open the batting rather than appear in the middle order, but he made little impact as Tendulkar's partner in the early matches, so was 'relegated' to number six. How the move worked yesterday.

When Jadeja ventured to the crease India were heading for a competitive score, but he ensured they climbed to a formidable one. So inventive and effective was

Jadeja's hitting in his 45 off 25 balls that the usually imposing figure of Waqar Younis was made to look like a novice, 96 flash- ing runs coming from India's last 10 overs.

Waqar conceded 22 runs off the 48th before gaining a semblance of consolation by claiming Jadeja's wicket amid the last-over car- nage, which saw 18 more runs garnered.

When Anil Kumble, the local hero, smote Waqar for consecutive fours to help take the total to 287 for eight the atmosphere reached fever pitch. For Kumble, the County Ground at Northampton this was not, and everything in India's garden city seemed rosy.

Pakistan looked dangerous when Sohail, as if to make up for his earlier tactical naivity, set off at an almost Sri Lankan pace along with Saeed Anwar and, when they put on 84 in 10 overs.

A Pakistan victory was again a possibility. The three Bangalore boys, however - Venkatesh Prasad, Srinath and Kumble - were more than equal to their task.

With Javed Miandad's run-out went Pakistan's hopes, and India went into the semi-finals against Sri Lanka, knowing they had al- ready lost to them, in New Delhi, in this tournament. This time they will have 110,000 voices at Eden Gardens behind them.

Source: The Electronic Telegraph
Editorial comments can be sent to The Electronic Telegraph at et@telegraph.co.uk