Mohali, Nov 8 (UNI) Younis Khan's braveheart 117 and Shahid Afridi's daring unbeaten 14-ball 29 saw Pakistan script a sensational four-wicket win over India in the second game to level the five match ODI series 1-1 here today.
Chasing a stiff target of 322 for a win at the asking rate of 6.44 per over, Pakistan scored 322 for six in 49.5 overs to improve upon their previous best chase of 319 for seven at Ahmedabad in 2005.
Reeling at 174 for 4, it looked all over for the visitors because at that stage Pakistan needed a run rate of 7.01 per over.
But in came Misbah-ul Haq and the visitors came alive.
The Indian bowling suddenly started looking pedestrian as the two took over and started dictating the proceedings.
Man-of-the-match Younis Khan, dropped when he was 72 by Yuvraj Singh at mid on off Harbhajan Singh, went ballistic as he sent Sourav Ganguly and Harbhajan for two towering sixes and raced his way through his third ODI century, and first against India.
His previous best against India was 81 at Rawalpindi in 2005. He and Misbah added 102 runs for the fifth wicket in 76 balls to bring the visitors near to victory.
But at this crucial moment, Younis was bowled by Zaheer Khan.
Younis' 117 came off 110 balls and were studded with two sixes and nine fours.
Next over R.P. Singh clean-bowled Misbah, who was 49 (44 balls, 3 x4) at that time and the visitors slumped to 283 for 6 but Afridi and Sohail Tanvir frustrated the limited India attack and added 39 runs in 19 balls to dash the host team's hope of going 2-0 up in the five-match series.
Afridi's 29 included two sixes and three boundaries while Sohail remained unbeaten on 14 (10 balls, 2x4).
Today's win in a way erased the painful memories of Pakistan's earlier two losses at the venue -- against New Zealand and South Africa in the Champions Trophy last year.
Electing to bat, India scored 321 for 9 in 50 overs with Sachin Tendulkar scoring 99.
The Indians went into the game with four bowlers and the inadequacy in the bowling showed as Pakistan snatched a win from the jaws of defeat.
Pakistan started briskly as openers Salman Butt and Kamran Akmal putting up 38 runs off first five overs. However in the sixth over, Akmal got a bit too ambitious and tried to blast R.P. Singh only to be caught at point by Yuvraj. The wicket keeper-opener made 13 off 19 balls with the help of one boundary.
In form Salman Butt, playing his 38th ODI, was joined by his vice-captain Younis Khan and the two kept the scoreboard moving at a good pace and added 43 runs in 9.2 overs for the second wicket.
As Pakistan hoped for a big stand, they suffered a big jolt when Butt departed. The opener dragged Irfan Pathan's outside the off stump delivery on to his stumps and the visitors were two down for 81 in 14.5 overs.
The loss of Butt rattled Pakistan and veteran Mohd. Yousuf along with seasoned campaigner Younis Khan virtually shut down the run rate.
The two most experienced batsmen of the visiting side just could not accelerate the run rate which was the need of the hour and they just managed 13 runs in the five overs of the last power play.
Thirty-three-year-old Yousuf, playing his 249th ODI, was tentative throughout his stay while 29-year-old Younis Khan, in his 158th ODI, was just not able to get out of his shell to get the scoreboard moving.
In the 21st over, Dhoni brought in Harbhajan and the Punjab spinner struck a vital blow for India in his second over when he bowled his 'doosra' which baffled Yousuf who charged out of the crease just to see the ball moving away from him and Dhoni did the rest as the batsman was left stranded. Yousuf made 12 off 25 balls hitting one boundary.
With three wickets down for 105 runs in 22.5 overs, the visitors were in a dire straits but then a rollicking 69-run fourth wicket stand between Younis and skipper Shoaib Malik followed.
Younis came out of his shell, started hitting the bowlers all over the park. He blasted Ganguly for a six and then raced to his 29th ODI fifty, his fourth against India.
But, Malik fell in a bid to accelerate the run rate, caught at long on by Pathan off Harbhajan. The skipper made 25 (28 balls, 2x4).