India find unlikely match-winner in Dhoni against Pakistan
by AFP

Ground:Andhra Cricket Association-Visakhapatnam District Cricket Association Stadium, Visakhapatnam
Scorecard:India v Pakistan
Player:MS Dhoni, V Sehwag, SC Ganguly, Abdul Razzaq, Inzamam-ul-Haq
Event:Pakistan in India 2004/05

DateLine: 5th April 2005


Mahendra Dhoni was a surprise hero with an explosive maiden century as India thrashed Pakistan by 58 runs in the second one-day international here.


The 24-year-old wicket-keeper Tuesday smashed an entertaining 148 in only his fifth match to help the hosts amass 356-9, India's third-highest total in one-dayers.


Pakistan were restricted to 298 despite fighting half-centuries from all-rounder Abdul Razzaq (88) and Yousuf Youhana (71) to concede a 2-0 lead in the six-match series.


"Chasing such a big score is never easy," said Pakistan captain Inzamam-ul Haq.


"We could have been in with a chance if we had more wickets in hand. But I think we can still bounce back in the series."


Electing to bat, India were put in command by Dhoni who was involved in two big stands with hard-hitting opener Virender Sehwag (74) and Rahul Dravid (52).


Dhoni was promoted to the number-three position after scoring just 22 in total in his previous four one-dayers as a lower-order batsman.


"It was a team decision to promote him. We wanted to capitalise on the first 15 overs, so we sent him as he is a clean striker of the ball," said India skipper Sourav Ganguly, whose team won the opening match by 87 runs.


The move paid off handsomely as Dhoni set the stage for a big total with Sehwag, the duo plundering 96 off just 10.2 overs after Sachin Tendulkar's run out for just two early in the innings.


Dhoni then dominated a 149-run stand for the fourth wicket with Dravid.


"It was a good track for batting," said Dhoni, unsurprisingly named man of the match.


"The ball was not moving much either in the air or off the pitch. There was a little pressure when I went in to bat but I was guided well by my seniors."


Dhoni cracked 15 fours and four sixes off 123 balls in a breathtaking display of strokemaking and became only the second Indian wicket-keeper to score a century in a one-dayer.


Out-of-form skipper Ganguly missed out on the run-feast, bowled by Sami for nine.


He was out to the first ball in the opening match after a dismal run in a preceding three-Test series in which he could manage just 48 in five innings.


Dhoni had no such trouble, reaching his century with a single off Afridi.


He was eventually caught by Shoaib Malik at mid-wicket off Hafeez.


Dravid relied more on ones and twos during his 59-ball knock and departed soon after Dhoni as India slipped from 289-3 to 301-6.


Tail-enders Zaheer Khan (17) and Lakshmipathy Balaji (17 not out) then helped India score their third-highest total after 376-2 (v New Zealand in 1999-2000) and 373-6 (v Sri Lanka in 1999).


Sehwag was also in punishing mood as he raced to his fifty off just 26 balls with a pulled four off seamer Rana. His 17th half-century contained 12 fours and two sixes.


Pakistan's hopes of successfully chasing down the huge total suffered a setback when free-stroking opener Shahid Afridi was bowled by paceman Ashish Nehra for a duck. The Indian fast bowler then removed Salman Butt for 36.


Razzaq held the innings together, but Pakistan kept losing wickets at regular intervals, including that of in-form captain Inzamam who was run out trying to steal a single.


Razzaq slammed 13 fours and a six off 93 balls before he was caught behind down the leg side off part-time spinner Yuvraj Singh.


Youhana also batted aggressively as he scored a 56-ball 71 with four sixes and two fours.


Nehra finished with 4-72 and Yuvraj with 3-55.

(Article: Copyright © 2005 AFP)


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