Mohali, Nov 8 (UNI) Spearheaded by master blaster Sachin Tendulkar, who slammed 99, and his 173-run second wicket partnership with Gautam Gambhir, India piled up a massive 321 for nine against Pakistan in their second one-day international cricket match here today.
The Indian top order, barring Sourav Ganguly, and lower order clicked well with Harbhajan Singh blasting an unbeaten 20-ball 38 which included two huge sixes off Rao Ifthikhar to take Indian score well past 300.
The hosts were served well by the tailenders who added 42 runs in the last five overs after a mini middle order collapse.
The score of 321 is the second highest total in this ground so far, the highest being 339 for 4 by Sri Lanka, also against Pakistan in 1997.
Hosts skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni elected to bat after winning the toss but Ganguly's dismissal in the third ball of the first over created some doubts about Dhoni's decision but they were laid to rest as Tendulkar and Gambhir got together to shred the Pakistan bowling.
Pakistan opted to go into this game with four pronged pace attack replacing spinner Abdur Rehaman with seamer Sohail Tanvir and, when their spearhead Shoaib Akhtar castled Ganguly's middle and leg stumps, the decision to pack the attack with seamers seemed justified.
But, Tendulkar and Gambhir had other ideas as they demolished not only the pace but the part time spin attack. The two took time to settle down and in the first few overs, runs came either through extras or due to poor fielding.
After three overs, Akhtar seemed to have lost his sting and Umar Gul, on the other hand, was also not able to penetrate the solid defence offered by the Indian duo.
Tendulkar, playing his record 404th one-dayer, soon got into his rhythm and Gambhir, seeing his senior partner in his elements at the other end, also started emulating the master blaster.
Tendulkar belted Gul for three successive stunning boundaries to race to his 86th ODI fifty. He first sent the bowler past short fine leg and then edged him past second slip to third man boundary and then slammed another four to leave the bowler bewildered.
Gambhir, though not as aggressive as his senior counterpart, kept the scoreboard moving with deft ones and twos and occasional boundary.
Akhtar looked flat and Gul stingless in their first spell and the next two seamers in Sohail Tanvir and Rao Ifthikar Anjum also could do nothing as the Indian duo looked well entrenched.