By Ahsan

Hello and welcome to Rs.5′s coverage of this crunch match between Pakistan and India. As always, all times are local (i.e. Chicago).

7:13 a.m. The teams: India are going with Gambhir, Sachin, Dravid, Raina, Dhoni, Kolhi, Yusuf Pathan, Harbajhan, Rp Singh, Ashish Nehra and Ishant. Pakistan’s team is Imran Nazir (yikes!), Kamran, Younis, Yousuf, Umar, Afridi, Rana, Aamer, Gullee and Ajmal. On paper, India is a better team, even without Yuvraj and Sehwag. But the game’s not played on paper, is it?

7:19 a.m. Pakistan have won the toss and decided to bat. I have no idea why, given India is a most assured chasing team. Maybe Younis was worried that if we had to chase, Kamran and Imran would get us off to a rollicking start of 10-2 after 3.3 overs, effectively ending the game? Who knows?

7:21 a.m. Ok, I’m getting sound on my stream but no video. What the fuck? This better get fixed quickly.

7:24 a.m. Why is the Pakistani national anthem being sung in an Italian accent?

7:25 a.m. Ok, we’ll go over some rules of the road for the benefit of the Indians reading this. I’ll try to be nice. But let’s face it: this is Pakistan-India. You’re lucky the guys I hate the most have either retired (Ganguly) or are injured (Yuvraj) are aren’t being considered (Sreesanth). But try not to get offended when I get offensive.

7:27 a.m. Kashmir is ours. Nehru had an affair with Mountbatten. Vajpayee is fat, and Modi is a goddamn fascist. There.

7:28 a.m. Ravi Shastri sounds suitably pumped. “It’s been a long time since there two teams met.” Not really, it’s just been over a year. His commentating partner is old boring and cranky Bob Willis. What, Boycott wasn’t available? Imran Nazir and Akmal to walk out. Again, we get a start better than 10-2, and I’ll be thrilled. Willis calls their averages “modest”.

7:29 a.m. Nehra to Imran to start. Butterflies, kids. Butterflies.

7:30 a.m. And we’re off! Quiet enough start, with Imran looking to work Nehra on the on-side. No run.

7:31 a.m. Great cricket. Imran smashes Nehra, gets stopped by Raina brilliantly in the covers, who almost runs Imran out scampering to the bowler’s end. India will beat Pakistan by 15 runs at least in the field.

7:32 a.m. And again, though no run this time.

7:32 a.m. Nehra darting it in here. Pakistan not really getting it in the middle, and it’s 1-0 after the first over.

7:33 a.m. Creedence Clearwater is playing in the background for some reason. Anyway, RP Singh from the other end. Crazy Imran to face.

7:34 a.m. Imran calmly pushes RP down the ground for four. I give him two more overs, at best.

7:35 a.m. Good running by Akmal, getting crazy Imran off strike. The less he bats, the less he can get out. Right?

7:36 a.m. And now Akmal drives RP wide off mid off for four more. I am more awake than RP is right now. He’s just ambling in.

7:37 a.m. Dangerous, dangerous. Akmal slices RP through the covers, could easily have gone to any of point or cover. Anyway, two more.

7:38 a.m. RP follows with a wide. “It’s worth remembering this is India’s first match of the tournament,” Willis gently reminds us.

7:39 a.m. Bang! Nehra serves up a long hop, and Imran smashes him off the back foot through the covers. Four more. Could this turn out to be an inspired selection? (No)

7:41 a.m. Ooooooh. Close, there. Nehra gets Imran swinging across the line. Just missing leg in my view. But mighty close.

7:41 a.m. Of course, crazy Imran tries an audacious, some would say batshit crazy, hook shot. Sigh.

7:42 a.m. Eventful over, five off it. 18-0 after three, and we’ve already exceeded my expectations. Well done guys. Seriously, no sarcasm there. Well done.

7:43 a.m. Oye, hoye, hoye! Crazy Imran played a forward defensive shot! Bloody hell. I’m impressed. Who taught him that shot, and when?

7:44 a.m. Wow dude. Imran punches RP down the ground, off the back foot, for four. Whisper it, but that was Sachinesque. Hardest shot in cricket to play, the backfoot drive.

7:45 a.m. Works RP off his hips for two behind square. Well, you can’t really complain about this start, can you?

7:46 a.m. Readers who are aware of places to get streams should please help their fellow readers floundering aimlessly in the comments.

7:47 a.m. And now through the covers off the back foot. This might just be Imran’s day. 10 off the over, and we move on to 28-0 after four.

7:47 a.m. There was a very enterprising email exchange prior to this match. Suffice it to say if Crazy Imran continues like this, I will owe apologies to Farooq, Faraz and Raza.

7:48 a.m. Hahaha. Stupid Crazy Imran, trying another crazy shot. Holes out to mid-on. Predictable as the sun rising in the east, that. Idiot. Dumbass. Dipshit. Choot.

7:49 a.m. Younis in.

7:51 a.m. So things settling down here, which allows me to broach the Crazy Imran debate. Proponents will argue that because he scored a quickfire 20, he’s valuable. I would argue if you put a guy like Malik, who’s more likely to score a sedate 30, you’re less likely to be a wicket down in the fourth over. “He’s blown a golden opportunity,” Ravi tells us. Not really. Crazy Imran never has golden opportunities to score, because Crazy Imran is crazy. Anyway, we’re 33-1 after 5. Younis hasn’t faced yet, but will now face up to Ishant, who’s replacing RP early.

7:53 a.m. And straight away on target, cramping Younis up. I’m very, very impressed by Ishant, I have to say. India finally have a real fast bowler — pace, bounce, swing. It only took them 60 years, but congratulations guys. Seriously, well done.

7:54 a.m. Needs a haircut though.

7:55 a.m. And Younis gets off the mark, as Ishant serves up a gift, and Younis accepts, glancing him fine for four. Well, the runs are still flowing.

7:56 a.m. And four more, this time through the covers off a long hop. I have to say, this is a good pitch, yes, but India have bowled absolute crap so far. Short and all over the place. Eight boundaries in six overs so far. That won’t get it done.

7:57 a.m. Oooooh. Younis drives uppishly, and just gets it past Dravid at short cover. Ravi almost came there. Calm down bhai. Anyway, 42-1 after six.

8:00 a.m. Ok, my stream has disappeared for a second. Nothing exciting better happen.

8:01 a.m. Ok, apparently Akmal pulled Nehra for four.

8:01 a.m. Akmal looks good. He’s middling it, placing it, timing it, and — most importantly — is displaying good shot selection. The whole aggressive vs. smart dichotomy is a false one, set up by Crazy Imran types and their followers. You can be both. Anyway, we’re 51-1 after seven. Harsha and Waz into the commentary box.

8:04 a.m. Harsha points to the fact that India have only four frontline bowlers, and will rely on Yusuf Pathan and Raina to bowl ten between them. As he says, what that means is that none of the frontline bowlers can have an off day. World, meet RP Singh. Anyway, quiet over from Ishant, just the one off it. 52-1 after eight.

8:07 a.m. Waz sounds genuinely depressed because of Crazy Imran. I would too, but you can’t be depressed if you have no expectations.

8:09 a.m. So things settling down here, as Ishant and Nehra hit some good lines, as they say.

8:10 a.m. And he’s gone! Against the run of the play, that. Akmal tries to cut Nehra, and plays on. On this pitch, where it’s staying a touch low, that will be a valid form of dismissal throughout the day. Big wicket there, Kamran was honestly looking pretty good. 53-2 after 8.5, and suddenly, we’re one wicket away from a very dicey situation. Malik in.

8:11 a.m. Quick poll: would you have sent Yousuf out here? Or, to be really ballsy, Umar Akmal?

8:12 a.m. “The gunslingers have gone now,” Harsha states the obvious.

8:13 a.m. For those looking for streams, some readers are filling up the comments with suggestions.

8:14 a.m. Oh God. Harsha and Waz are talking about the last time these two teams met on this ground. One of my worst memories ever. To be fair, when a champion player like Sachin plays like he did that day, there’s not much you can do. That’s one of the three or four greatest ODI innings I’ve ever watched when you consider everything — the opposition bowling, the bigness of the game, the pressure, everything.

8:16 a.m. Hey guys, why don’t you just talk about Bangalore 1996 instead? Bastards. Anyway, things really slowing down here, as Ishant bowls a maiden to Younis. 53-2 after ten.

8:18 a.m. We’ve scored two runs in the last 3.3 overs. For whatever it’s worth.

8:19 a.m. Nehra bowling well here, keeping it tight. Anyway, let’s talk about the type of score Pakistan would be happy with. Given it’s India, and given they’re an awesome chasing team, I say we need at least 315. Odds are, we won’t get there. So say we get 270 odd. Would you bet on our bowling or India’s batting, sans Yuvraj and Sehwag? Hmmm.

8:21 a.m. You know who I really miss? Abey Kuruvilla. Anyway, 54-2 after eleven. Ishant to continue.

8:24 a.m. Alright guys, it’s all very well to be safe, but you need to at least look for singles. I’m surprised I have to tell Younis and Malik this, since they’re the two best in our team at getting quick ones and twos, but there you go.

8:25 a.m. You can see Malik starting to get edgy. Another maiden from Ishant, and it’s 54-2 after twelve. Slowed to a crawl here. The run rate has dropped to four and a half.

8:26 a.m. If you want to see the definition of “not getting a joke”, please read reader Sandy’s comment to this post. Anyway, we’re 3-1 in the last five overs. Good times.

8:27 a.m. Ah, RP’s back to relieve the pressure! A wide and a two to deep square to start. Thanks, RP!

8:29 a.m. Great fielding from Raina in the covers. Stops a certain boundary. Why the hell are young Indians SO much better in the field than young Pakistanis?

8:29 a.m. Ooooooh. Younis almost gives a dolly back to RP. They’re trying weird shots here because they can’t get singles. If one of them throws away their wicket here, this will be the self-inflicted wound to end all self-inflicted wounds. Anyway, three off the over. 57-2 after 13.

8:31 a.m. People, please keep it relatively clean in the comments. I really don’t have the time to police the comments, I’m already struggling to keep up with everything. Just be nice, ok?

8:33 a.m. Number of overs it took to get to 50: seven. Number of overs we stayed in the 50s: six.

8:35 a.m. India are bowling well, but come the fuck on man. Doesn’t mean you can’t get four an over just by being smart and running hard.

8:36 a.m. Younis carves Ishant to point for four. Ok, it’s a boundary, but I’d still like to see more tap-and-runs here. Anyway, we’re 64-2 after 14. The partnership is a rollicking 11 off 32 balls.

8:39 a.m. And RP Singh, of all people, gets Younis, who feathers a touch to MS Dhoni behind him. That’s what pressure does to you. That was a nothing delivery — what got him was the slowed scoring rate, and the fact that they couldn’t rotate the strike. Bloody hell. Trouble now, as we’re 65-3 after 14.4. Real trouble.

8:41 a.m. If we lose a wicket in the next fifteen overs, we’re losing this game. Mark my words. Anyway, Yousuf in.

8:42 a.m. I really shouldn’t have made fun of RP earlier. I think I deserve some blame for Younis’ dismissal.

8:43 a.m. Safe enough start, as Yousuf knocks RP (coming round the wicket) to square leg. No run.

8:43 a.m. And that’s the over. 65-3 after fifteen. Safe to say, I think, that India are bossing this game at present.

8:44 a.m. Goddamn, Ishant is one ugly dude.

8:45 a.m. Is that Malik’s first boundary? Don’t recall him hitting one earlier. Anyway, he late cuts Ishant fine to third man, first for four, then for one.

8:48 a.m. Yousuf looks so assured at the crease, man. I mean, I don’t want to curse him or anything, but he always looks so safe.

8:50 a.m. So this game is really going India’s way now. 71-3 after 16, as they put the stranglehold on. The one saving grace for us is that their backup bowling, as mentioned earlier, is thin. But will we have the batting left to take advantage of it? One more wicket here, and we’re fucking doomed.

8:51 a.m. Bloody RP has his tail up now. Yaar, he was feeling shit about himself and had given 21 in his first two. Now he’s darting it in and bowling quicker. Brilliant. This is what you did, Younis.

8:53 a.m. Four dot balls to start. Fuck me.

8:54 a.m. This is genuinely painful to watch. Malik has no idea what he’s doing.

8:54 a.m. And another maiden. 71-3 after seventeen. Are we aiming for 200? No, seriously, is that the score that was discussed in the team meeting before? Or have we thrown this game for money?

8:55 a.m. Virat Kohli? Um, ok. If he gets a wicket here, Dhoni is a genius. If he releases the pressure, I’m sending Dhoni a thank you card.

8:56 a.m. This guy’s bowling like Saleem Malik. Anyway, Nick Knight and Sanjay Manjrekar posit that he’s bowling now because this is time to get your crappy bowlers out of the way. My view on this is that when the opposition is struggling, and you need just one more wicket to really have them in trouble, you don’t take your foot off the throat.

8:58 a.m. Solid enough, with five singles. I’ll take that, and I suspect, so will Dhoni. 76-3 after eighteen.

8:59 a.m. Yusuf Pathan in from the other end, while Harbajhan chews his nails. Well, it’s an interesting move, that’s for sure. If Pakistan somehow end up with a good score, Indian fans will look at this double change — Kohli and Yusuf — as the turning point.

9:01 a.m. Of course, Malik is in no mood to score runs today, so it’s working out okay for Dhoni.

9:01 a.m. Well played Malik. Really solid. You take your time with this one. You take your time. Choot. 77-3 after 19.

9:02 a.m. “They’re allowing part time bowlers to bowl,” Ravi tells us. Yup.

9:04 a.m. Well a goodish shot from Malik that should have gone for two to extra cover goes for four because RP is a bad fielder. Whatever. I am not going to celebrate Malik’s runs. I’m just going to state calmly for the record what happened, and move on. Idiot.

9:05 a.m. Nine off the over. 86-3 after 20.

9:06 a.m. Well played, Malik! Keep blocking a part time off spinner to the inner ring! Shabaash yaar. What a player you are. What a hero.

9:07 a.m. Aha! The classical forward defensive shot. What grace you are displaying under pressure, Malik! What a superstar you are!

9:08 a.m. One off the over. 87-3 after 21. Yusuf has given two runs in two overs.

9:08 a.m. Yousuf picks Kohli up over midwicket for four. Yousuf is playing well, and pacing himself. Malik is a goddamn choot. Big difference there.

9:09 a.m. Hahaha. Ravi calls Akram “Waz” who returns the favor by calling him “Shaz”. Remember their godawful show on ESPNStar, called the Shaz and Waz show, when they went around grounds like a couple of old hornballs, chatting up ostensibly hot women who were actually nothing but? Yeah.

9:10 a.m. Seven off the over. 94-3 after 22.

9:12 a.m. I hate Shoaib Malik. From the bottom of my heart, I hate him. May his balls be crushed by an alligator’s jaw.

9:14 a.m. 99-3 after 23. Just knocking bloody part-timers around.

9:14 a.m. RP brought back, replacing Kohli, who was hit around a little bit.

9:15 a.m. Again, Yousuf looks good. I just wish he had a real partner here. This is basically the cricket equivalent of the Portia de Rossi-Ellen Degeneres lesbian relationship, where one partner is basically on another planet.

9:17 a.m. Four singles off the first five. Ok, not bad. Ravi, by the way, thinks 260/270 will be competitive. I’m not so sure. Didn’t we say the exact same thing six years ago, on that fateful day?

9:18 a.m. That bloody annoying Black Eyed Peas song is playing in the background. Ugh. Anyway, four off the over, and we move on to 103-3 after 24.

9:19 a.m. Yusuf Pathan continues. To be fair to him, he’s bowled well. But Malik has played him absolutely terribly. I mean, really.

9:20 a.m. Ufff! Malik advancing down the pitch against Yusuf! Of course, he doesn’t actually get a run off it, because he’s a terrible player and a terrible person. But at least he looks like he’s woken up.

9:21 a.m. Five off the over, as these two just knock singles around the open areas. Typical middle-overs stuff here. 108-3 after 25. What say you, readers? Can we get 280? I say no.

9:22 a.m. Harbajhan in. Teri maa ki!

9:22 a.m. Where’s Symonds when you need him?

9:23 a.m. First one stays low. Yousuf refuses an easy single. Good times.

9:24 a.m. Quiet start. Two off the first four balls. By the way, why don’t we just take the power play now? Dhoni wouldn’t want to bring his pacers on, trying to keep them for the end. The batsmen have settled in a little bit. Isn’t this the absolute right time to do it, and get some momentum going? I mean, we’ll score off the last ten anyway (if we have wickets in hand that is). Anyway, four off the over. 112-3 after 26.

9:26 a.m. Malik continues to treat Yusuf Pathan like Jim fucking Laker.

9:27 a.m. Anyway, the fifty partnership is up, off 72 balls. Ok, not terrible when you see the numbers like that. It’s just that they’ve been facing average bowling for the most part, and should have done more. Anyway, if they bat until the 35th over, then it would’ve been worth it. Five off the over, 117-3 after 27.

9:28 a.m. Harbajhan continues. Kohli stops a certain four off a Malik sweep, at short fine. These bastard guys. Field like us for a while, will you?

9:30 a.m. Waz tells us that he was once in a team with nine former captains. We’re Pakistan, and we’re proud.

9:31 a.m. Ah, we needed that. A wide down the leg side, and it goes for four byes too. By the way, India have been very disciplined. I don’t remember a single no-ball, and I think there’s been only one or two wides. Anyway, 8 off the over. 125-3 off 28.

9:32 a.m. Goddamn Kings of Leon playing “Sex on Fire” on the PA. One of those bands that sound good until you hear them more than five times. Then they’re boring and one-dimensional. And their vocalist has an annoying voice.

9:33 a.m. I wish I had something to describe here, but this is typical middle-overs-of-an-ODI stuff. The batsmen are content scoring five an over. The fielding side is content to concede five an over. And so there’s an equilibrium. Anyway, four singles off this over, and we move on to 129-3 off 29. We need at least 280 to have a chance against this batting lineup.

9:35 a.m. Harbajhan continues. Alright, from India’s perspective, I’d think about bringing Nehra or Ishant back for a quick two-over spell. If one of them gets Yousuf here, they’re firmly on top. As things stand, we’re working our way back into this game, being helped of course, by Harbajhan bowling two wides in a row.

9:38 a.m. I really don’t understand why we don’t take the power play right now. If you’re waiting for Afridi, understand that a guy like him would score quickly with or without boundary fielders. But the marginal value added of no boundary fielders is enormous for a guy like Yousuf. Come on, Younis. Think out of the box here, yaar. You don’t have to take it in the last ten, you know that right?

9:40 a.m. Anyway, Dhoni agrees with my previous suggestion and brings back Nehra. We’ve moved on to 134-3 after 30, by the way.

9:41 a.m. Yousuf just gently caresses Nehra behind point for two. What a beautiful player to watch, Yousuf. Does he ever look like he’s trying?

9:42 a.m. Oooh, Yousuf slashing at one too close to him. That was close. By the way, Bob Willis informs us that Malik’s strike rate is below 50. Good times.

9:43 a.m. Who do you think is hated most in Pakistan right now: George Bush, Asif Zardari or Shoaib Malik?

9:44 a.m. Five off the over. 139-3 after 31. Time to switch from third gear into fourth gear, folks. We have Umar Akmal waiting.

9:45 a.m. Yusuf replaces Harbajhan at this end, and immediately bowls a dot ball to Malik. Malik then follows by charging him and trying an ungainly pull, which goes for one to deep midwicket.

9:46 a.m. That’s how you bat, Malik. God, Yousuf is orgasmic. Four to third man with a delicate late cut, giving us our first boundary in more than ten overs. For some reason, Harsha calls Yousuf’s batting “very polite, acceptable…very middle class”. I have no idea what the fuck he’s talking about. Anyway, eight off the over, and we’re 147-3 in 32.

9:47 a.m. On the subject of class, I’m sure our Indian readers who are less aware would like to know that Yousuf in fact grew up desperately poor. His father was the sweeper at the rail station in Lahore.

9:49 a.m. I want to have a threesome with Yousuf and Lionel Messi. Just thought I’d throw that out there.

9:50 a.m. Speaking of Messi, Barca are playing Malaga at 1pm today. This is going to be very challenging.

9:50 a.m. And now Malik late cuts Harbajhan for four. India have problems here, in the sense that they allowed Malik and Yousuf to get away when they had them in their grasp. Seven off the over, and we’re up to 154-3 after 33. The final drinks break.

9:54 a.m. There are 17 overs to go, of which 11 can be bowled by India’s pacers. The other six overs will be the key. Harbajhan has looked off-key, and Yusuf Pathan and Kohli can’t be relied to be super economical. Can they?

9:56 a.m. The first ball after the drinks break is delightfully late cut by Yousuf for four. What a player. By the way, my idiot friend Farooq wanted Yousuf to be dropped for this game. Seriously.

9:57 a.m. My stream’s acting weird. Does Farooq have some weird karmic power with the internet gods? If so, I’m sorry dude. I shouldn’t have called you an idiot in public. My bad.

9:55 a.m. 166-3 after 34, so ten came off that over. The sound’s disappeared but at least I have video. And frankly, Bob Willis is not worth listening to anyway.

9:59 a.m. And Yousuf’s fifty is up! What a player! Harbajhan continuing, by the way.

10:00 a.m. Quiet over, that. 169-3 after 35. Alright, Younis, can we PLEASE take the power play now? For the love of God man. This could be the difference between 265 and 285. Come on dude.

10:01 a.m. Ishant back into the attack, with the mandatory ball change. Key moment, this.

10:01 a.m. Short, wide, four. Alrighty, then. Malik has raised his 50 with that shot.

10:02 a.m. Short, less wide, one.

10:03 a.m. And now Yousuf gets a single. Keep the momentum going, guys.

10:03 a.m. Ok, then. Malik slashes a wide one for four more, similar to the first ball. Well played Malik. Seriously. No jokes, you’ve done well.

10:04 a.m. Ishant coming round the wicket, after ten have been taken off his first four balls here.

10:05 a.m. A couple of comments about the blog format have come in. One person asking for automatic updates. Fat chance. Another asking for reverse order blogging, so updates show up on top. To be honest, I tried that once, and it’s really annoying and difficult to reversing it back when the game’s done. Sorry guys, I wish I was better at this technology stuff. If any techno folks have suggestions, please email us at fiverupeesadminATgooglegroupsDOTcom before the next match, and I’ll try to take care of it.

10:06 a.m. And another four to third man, and that’s a big over. 14 off it, and we’re suddenly at 183-3 after 36.

10:07 a.m. Harbajhan continues. Nick Knight sounds overawed by Yousuf. He’s almost gushing. Yup, he’s that good, kids. Pity about that ICL bullshit.

10:08 a.m. A good over by Harbajhan is ruined as Malik cuts him for four off the last ball. Seven off it, and we’re 190-3 after 37. You know we’re doing well once Waz starts yelling in the commentary box.

10:09 a.m. You can actually feel Waz’s heart rate rise through the air waves. I love biased commentators.

10:10 a.m. RP replacing Ishant. Yousuf glances hard for two.

10:11 a.m. And now a beautiful pick up over mid-off for four. It’s effortless, man. It’s bloody effortless.

10:12 a.m. 300 is on the cards, gents.

10:12 a.m. India have bowled well for precisely one little spell in this game so far: from about overs 5-15, when Ishant and Nehra settled in. Other than that, they’ve been average. Their lengths have been all over the place, and they’ve bowled both sides of the wicket. Anyway, our 200 is up at the end of the 38th over. 32 balls for the last fifty runs. So yes, when I asked at 9:44 to slip into fourth gear from third, looks like they heard me.

10:14 a.m. Harbajhan to continue.

10:15 a.m. Two dot balls followed by a rubbish ball. Wide of off stump, and Malik cuts him for four more. He’s been off today, Harbajhan.

10:16 a.m. Malik almost decapitates Yousuf, smashing Harbajhan down the ground after charging. Great fielding on the boundary keeps it to two. India have saved 15 runs in the field, easily. We’ll leak 15 runs, easily. So we’ll have to make up the difference with our batting and bowling. Anyway, eight off the over, and we’re 208-3 after 39.

10:17 a.m. Before our fans start getting overly excited, this is a flat, slow pitch. Indian makes 350 on these pitches for fun. Just keep that in mind.

10:19 a.m. Bach gaya, saala. RP bowls short and wide, but Yousuf misses it. Should’ve been four, that.

10:19 a.m. I wasn’t listening closely, but I am positive that Waz just said “this is the booty of this format.”

10:20 a.m. Another short and wide one for no run, this time from Malik. That’s two in this over now.

10:21 a.m. Aha! What an inventive shot from Malik. A full toss outside off would usually be driven. Instead, Malik guides it behind point, almost an open-face cut off the front foot. Needed that boundary.

10:22 a.m. Four more! Dhoni had put in two points for Malik, and he still gets it past them, and yet squarer than the sweeper on the off side. Nine off the over, and we’ve raced to 217-3. The 150 partnership is up. Bloody hell, that was quick.

10:23 a.m. Yusuf Pathen replaces Harbajhan. By the way, 83 have come off the last ten.

10:24 a.m. Hahaha. Waz is so excited. Bless his heart, Waz. He’s out Sidhu, except he could actually play in his day.

10:24 a.m. And another cut from Malik from four. He’s really peppered that off-side fence, between third man and cover. Eight off the over, and our score is 225-3. Nine overs to go.

10:26 a.m. The partnership is basically a run a ball, which is really saying something after the start they had. Nehra replaces RP.

10:28 a.m. Alright, let’s take a quick stock of the situation. You’d back us to get 300 at this point, barring an almighty collapse. Will that be enough? Well, our quick bowling will be better than India’s. But India’s openers will be be, um, just slightly better than ours. If they get a good start, then that’ll take the steam out of our attack, and they can canter. Or maybe I’m being too paranoid, and 300 will be enough. Who knows?

10:30 a.m. Nehra’s bowled well here, coming back. Just four runs off the first five balls of the over. He’s easily been India’s best bowler today. Makes you wonder where the hell he went all those years.

10:31 a.m. What the hell was that? Nick Knight called it a “swat”. I call it the worst hook shot ever played. Anyway, Malik gets a single to finish the over, and we’re 230-3 after 42. Be honest, Pakistanis: you want one of these to get out now, don’t you? It’s time for Umar Akmal, isn’t it?

10:32 a.m. Harbajhan back into the attack. Say this for Dhoni: he doesn’t half keep things changing. Malik taps for one into the leg side. Harbajhan is coming round the wicket, by the way.

10:33 a.m. Judging by the dried up comments section, I would suggest that our readers are now actually captivated by the cricket itself.

10:34 a.m Quiet over so far. A wide and four singles.

10:35 a.m. ANOTHER cut behind point for four brings up Shoaib Malik’s hundred. Would you believe it. Go back and read the crap I was saying about him two hours ago. I’m sorry, Malik bhai. I’m sorry.

10:36 a.m. 241-3 after 43. Crunch time here.

10:37 a.m. I want to have babies with Yousuf’s drives through the off-side. That’s four more, and suddenly Nehra’s under pressure.

10:39 a.m. Ooooh. Chance there. Malik flays Nehra to Kohli, who had jump high to get a hand on it. Think Collingwood and Hayden from 2005, but this one didn’t stick.

10:40 a.m. Man, I don’t know what Malik had in that last drinks break, but he’s gone insane here. Now he smashes Nehra down the ground for four more, giving us 11 for the over. 252-3 with six overs left. And a power play, don’t forget.

10:41 a.m. Yousuf reverse-sweeps Harbajhan for two. By the way, won’t it be hilarious if Younis forgets about the power play?

10:42 a.m. Harbajhan is serving up rubbish here. Rank long hop there, and Yousuf just deposits him over cover for four. I could have hit that shot. India will be disappointed with their bowling effort here, no doubt about it. I know it’s a good batting pitch, but they haven’t done their part.

10:44 a.m. Another reverse-sweep to end the over, for a single. Nine off the over, and it’s 261-3 with five overs to go. I haven’t yet seen the signal for the power play.

10:44 a.m. Ok, now I have. This is it, folks.

10:45 a.m. The partnership is touching 200. “Now the problem Dhoni has is: who is he going to use in the power play?” Ravi says. Yup.

10:46 a.m. Nehra to Yousuf, and it’s a single first up. Ok, quick question: if we lose a wicket now, would you send in Afridi or Umar? I say Umar. He’s a real cricketer, unlike Mr. Boom Boom.

10:47 a.m. Another single. Nehra mixing it up well here. Can you imagine what score we would have had with no Nehra?

10:48 a.m. Sorry, that last one was a two. My mistake. This ball is also a two, as Malik works Nehra to third man. 200 partnership is up.

10:49 a.m. Yousuf swivels and flicks Nehra to four to deep midwicket. Again, I would remind the Pakistanis out there: the Indians eat these pitches for breakfast. Don’t think that 300 is super safe. Far from it.

10:50 a.m. And he’s gone! Nehra bowls it in the blockhole, and Yousuf is bowled. Out comes Boom Boom, and the crowd, predictably, goes insane. This is make-or-break stuff.

10:50 a.m. Afridi walks to the wicket like he owns the fucking ground, like some seth in his village. Hahahaha. I love Afridi. Anyway, it’s 271-4 with four overs to go. Yusuf Pathan to continue.

10:52 a.m. Two dot balls by Malik to start up. Come on, yaar.

10:52 a.m. A two and a single brings Afridi on to strike. Well, then.

10:53 a.m. Gives himself room, inside out, four over cover. “Boom boom on his way,” Ravi says.

10:54 a.m. And now he’s actually on his way. Hahahaha. I can’t even describe that shot, but I can tell you Afridi is caught behind. Just the seven off the over, and Umar Akmal in. Three overs to go, 278 is the score. We need at least 300. Come on, guys.

10:55 a.m. Malik drives Nehra to cover for four. Follows with a hoik over midwicket for a boundary. This has been some innings from Malik. God, I can barely remember the player who poked and prodded for a strike rate of 25 in the early part of his innings.

10:57 a.m. Two to wide long on. 10 off the three balls here. Umar Akmal is a racehorse between the sticks.

10:57 a.m. A single brings Umar on to strike. “What a talent he is,” gushes Ravi. Yup.

10:58 a.m. Ooops. First ball duck for Umar, as he tries to deposit Nehra somewhere in Madagascar, but succeeds only in getting a touch to Dhoni. Feel bad for the kid. I mean, what’re you supposed to do with two bloody overs to go? Rana in.

11:00 a.m. Gets two off his first ball. 291-6 with two overs to go. Quick question: whose hair transplant is funnier, Nawaz Sharif’s or Rana’s?

11:01 a.m. Harbajhan to bowl the penultimate over. Malik gets a single down the ground off the first ball. Rana smashes the next one to mid off for four.

11:02 a.m. Good reply from Harbajhan with a yorker. Rana tries a slog sweep next ball, gets an edge, and gets two down to fine leg.

11:03 a.m. A single off the next ball gets Malik back on strike. Harbajhan bowls a wide, trying to get Malik down the legside. 300 up.

11:04 a.m. And Malik holes out to long on, trying to hit boundaries. What an innings. I feel really stupid for my comments earlier. I’m sorry, Shoaib bhai. I promise I won’t talk bad about you again. Until the next match, this is. Gullee in, with one over to go and the score an even 300.

11:05 a.m. Ishant to bowl the last over.

11:06 a.m. An ungainly hoik gets an edge and ends up to third man for one. Gullee now on strike.

11:07 a.m. A swing and a miss. Gullee is such a cartoon with the bat. Malik made 128 by the way.

11:07 a.m. And now Gullee’s gone, edging Ishant to point. We’ve had a really bad last three overs, no question about it. We should have ended up with 315-320. We’ll be lucky to get 305. Aamer in.

11:09 a.m. Rana gets a single to deep square. Two balls to go, the score’s 302.

11:10 a.m. And Aamer chips Ishant to mid-on. Bloody hell. We’ve lost 6 wickets in the last four overs.

11:11 a.m. And a dot ball to finish. So Pakistan close on 302-9, and set India a challenging score, but one they should get on this pitch if they bat well.

My synopsis of the innings: the first three got starts, but Crazy Imran played a ridiculous shot, Akmal chopped on, and Younis played a nothing shot. Malik was very scratchy early on, but Yousuf was silky good throughout. Slowly but surely, though, they picked up momentum and Malik in particular hit another gear. A 200 partnership put us in the box seat, before we lost our way in the last five overs. We might be about 15 runs light, but we shall see.

I will be starting a new post for the Indian innings, to ensure that you don’t have to scroll down that far. You can click here for that post, or alternatively go to the main page for the blog.