Five years after the unfortunate Mumbai attacks, the cricket fans in India and Pakistan received an unexpected joyful news. In July 2012, the two board of respective countries decided to hold a short series in India by the end of the year – resulting in a thaw amid stringent relations between the two countries.
For a 90s kid who had grown up watching the two cricketing giants play each other almost every other year from late 90s to a better part of 2000s, the news was more than the usual Pakistan-India encounter. It was hope. It was the hope that this cricketing diplomacy will be able to soften the hearts of the people in the power corridors of the two countries.
Before the start of the series, the two teams had contrasting forms. India was coming on the back of a brilliant summer. On the other hand, Pakistan had hardly won anything leading to the series. While India still boasted the likes of Virender Sehwag, Pakistan still had a wristy aggressive opener in Nasir Jamshed and a raw Mohammad Irfan making his comeback.
Pakistan had beaten India by five-wickets in a low-scoring thriller to kick things off at Ahmadabad. The two main talking points from the first game were Mohammad Irfan and Bhuvneshwar Kumar.
The start of the match was quite similar to that of the first game, with both Gambhir and Rahane laying a solid foundation, before losing their wickets. Pakistan was lucky to have Kohli run out.
In came Yuvraj Singh and what followed was spectacle only Yuvraj could display, taking the trio of Afridi, Ajmal and Hafeez to cleaners. Partnered by MS Dhoni, it was all nostalgic straight out of 2006 India tour of Pakistan where Yuvraj and Dhoni had won almost every game with blistering knocks.
Post-2011 World Cup, Nasir Jamshed had emerged a great batting prospect and was perhaps Pakistan best batsman at that time. Boasting a terrible record while chasing, the pressure was always on Pakistan.
Powerplay went in Pakistan’s favour as the visitors amassed 54 without the loss of a wicket. But then came the brakes followed by wickets.
Mohammad Hafeez's belligerence kept Pakistan in the hunt © BCCI
Everything looked the usual gloomy, with all hopes relying on Boom Boom to rescue his side once again.
The onslaught eventually came, but not from Boom Boom. It was the captain Mohammad Hafeez who played a blinder, scoring a 21 ball fifty.
Ashok Dinda's three wickets were crucial in India's win © BCCI
Defending 28 off the last two overs, Ashok Dinda nailed the penultimate over, removing both Hafeez and Kamran Akmal in the space of three deliveries, leaving Pakistan with too much by the end.
The writer tweets @khaledumair