Youhana sparkles for Pakistan

India 200 Pakistan 201-7 Pakistan win by three wickets

Yousuf Youhana has played many outstanding innings but few will have given him more pleasure than that which took Pakistan to a three-wicket victory over their fiercest rivals here yesterday. Without his stylish innings of 81 it would be India, rather than Pakistan, who would be taking on the West Indies in the second semi-final of the Champions' Trophy on Wednesday.

Youhana's innings began with his side in trouble. In a hostile opening spell India's Irfan Pathan claimed three wickets and highlighted why he was recently voted the most exciting young cricketer in the world. Pakistan were on 27 for 3 and India's disappointing total of 200 looked some distance away.

But to chase a total of this size only takes one decent partnership, and this came when Youhana joined his captain, Inzamam-ul-Haq, at the crease. With the thousands of Indian fans in a capacity crowd going wild, the first task was to quieten them down. It took some time but eventually the green and white flags became more apparent than those covered with green, white and orange. The run-rate rose slowly but this failed to worry two players with a combined experience of almost 500 one-day games.

During a typically watchful innings Inzamam, playing his 322nd one-day match, reached 23 and became the second player to score 10,000 one-day runs. The crowd rose and his team-mates left the dressing-room to stand by the side of the pitch and applaud. But on reaching 41 - still 3,397 runs behind Sachin Tendulkar, the highest run-scorer in limited-overs cricket - Inzamam attempted to dab Ajit Agarkar down to third man and edged a catch to the wicketkeeper.

With 93 to winthe match was back in the balance. Abdur Razzaq and Moin Khan offered brief support to Youhana before Shahid Afridi came to the middle - not a bad No 8. Afridi's 12-ball cameo of 25 gave Pakistan the space to play themselves home.

Having taking his side to the verge of victory Afridi played a stupid shot and was caught at long-on. This wicket, along with Youhana's discomfort, through cramp, led to a runner being called for and Indian interest resumed. But it was short-lived as Youhana cut Yuvraj Singh to third man to clinch a memorable victory with four balls remaining.

India's innings was also dominated by a solitary partnership. After being invited to bat three poor strokes reduced Sourav Ganguly's side to 28 for 3. The pace of Shoaib Akhtar gave Pakistan further success before Rahul Dravid and Agarkar gave their team a chance with a run-a-ball partnership of 82. Both fell to Naved-ul-Hasan, who took career best figures of 4 for 25.

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