Sehwag, Raina guide India to Asia Cup’s Super Four

June 27th, 2008 - 2:02 am ICT by IANS  

Karachi, June 27 (IANS) Virender Sehwag’s free-flowing century along with Suresh Raina’s scintillating innings helped India register their second consecutive win in the Asia Cup, beating Pakistan by six wickets in a Group B match here Thursday. Set to chase a target of 300, the Indian team never looked tense and achieved the target in 42.1 overs. Sehwag (119) and Raina (84) toyed with Pakistan’s depleted and wayward bowling attack at the National Stadium.

With this win India moved into the Super Four stage, where they will face Bangladesh in the first match Saturday. The win was also India’s quickest while chasing a target of 300 or more.

Pakistan captain Shoaib Malik’s 125 went in vain though he helped his team get 299 run on board for the loss of four wickets in 50 overs.

After Gautam Gambhir (9) departed with just 12 runs on board, Sehwag and Raina gave no chance to the Pakistani bowlers and scored heavily on both sides of the wicket. They both punished the bowlers heavily and Pakistan captain was left short of ideas when his main strike bowler Umar Gul had to leave the field due to a rib-muscle injury after bowling just 1.2 overs.

Sehwag and Raina added 198 runs for the second wicket, making sure India romp home safely.

A confident Raina, who scored his maiden century against Hong Kong the previous evening, started the run glut with free-flowing cover drives off Sohail Tanvir and Ifthikar Anjum.

Raina did the bulk of the scoring in the early few overs because Sehwag on the other end did not look comfortable and failed to get off the mark till the fourth over.

But after Sehwag found his rhythm, the Pakistani bowlers failed to restrain him and he completed his century in just 80 balls.

Raina, who looked in fine touch, chipped Anjum tamely to Alam at cover to miss what could have been his second consecutive century. Sehwag’s blitzkrieg came to an end in the 31st over but by that time India were just 69 runs away from the victory with 19 overs to go.

Yuvraj Singh (48) and captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni (26 not out) guided India safely home.

Earlier in the day, Malik scored his first century as Pakistan captain to help his team post a challenging total on board. The skipper, who opened the innings with Salman Butt, had to retire hurt with cramps in the 40th over but by then he had set the base for Pakistan.

It was Malik’s sixth ODI century and third against India. He completed the century in 104 balls and that included 13 fours and one six. He added 90 runs with Butt (35) and then a crucial 129-run partnership with Younis Khan (59).

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