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Dhoni leads way as India strikes

November 06, 2007

INDIA struck first with a five-wicket win over Pakistan in the first one-day international today.

Skipper Mahendra Dhoni hit 63 and his deputy Yuvraj Singh 58 in a 105-run fourth wicket partnership to lift India to 5-242 in 47 overs. Their spinners had helped restrict Pakistan to 7-239 on a slow pitch at Guwahati.

In-form Mohammad Yousuf struck a classy 83 not out and opener Salman Butt hit 50 to raise Pakistani victory hopes, only to be let down by poor bowling and sloppy fielding.

Indian left-handers Saurav Ganguly (39) and Gautam Gambhir put on 82 runs for the second wicket before the aggressive Dhoni, who promoted himself to number four, and Yuvraj took over.

Strike bowler Shoaib Akhtar won a personal duel against Sachin Tendulkar when he trapped him leg before for four runs.

Akhtar bowled a series of short deliveries to peg back Tendulkar before beating him with a pitched-up ball that nipped back a shade.

He was unlucky not to make more inroads as Ganguly (39) and Gambhir (44) nicked him past fielders many times early on.

Ganguly was finally run out and spinner Afridi bowled Gambhir round the legs with an off break to reduce India to 113 for three but had to wait for the next wicket until India were just 22 runs short of victory.

Yuvraj reached his 31st one-day fifty, including a six against left-arm spinner Abdur Rehman, before being caught at deep square leg.

Akhtar had Dhoni caught behind edging a wide ball to end his 77-ball effort studded with eight fours but it was too late.

He returned two for 52 from eight overs.

Yousuf and Butt propped up Pakistan in the morning.

Yousuf showed his class to hold the innings together after the 33-year-old hit his 58th one-day fifty, facing 88 balls.

Yousuf added 63 runs for the fourth wicket with Shahid Afridi (31) before taking charge in a sixth-wicket stand of 68 with Misbah-ul Haq (27) after Sachin Tendulkar removed Afridi and skipper Shoaib Malik (two).

Salman Butt, recalled as opener to play his first game since May, played many wristy shots for his fifth one-day fifty until he was run out to allow Indian bowlers to take firm control in the middle of the innings.

The next match in the five-game series will be played in Mohali on Thursday. Pakistan will also play three Tests.

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