India subdue Pakistan in thriller to defend Blind Cricket World Cup title

SHARJAH: Before Saturday, India could never defend a world cricket title. On a sunny afternoon at the Sharjah Cricket Ground that elusive feat was achieved. Though the stars of the occasion could not clearly see the celebrations around, they did savour it with broad smiles.

The names of Ganeshbhai Muhundkar, Sunil Ramesh, Ajai Kumar Reddy doesn't quite ring a bell in the ears of Indian cricket fans, yet they were the nation's champions on Saturday. In the Blind Cricket World Cup final, they starred as India defeated Pakistan to successfully defend their title.

Chasing 309 in 40 overs, India reached the target in 38 overs as a small group of Indian fans present ran onto the field to share the joy with the world champions. The two-wicket victory ensured that India retain the title. India are also the T20 world champions in blind cricket.

Drama filled match

Though the margin of win may suggest otherwise, the final was not devoid of drama. India won the toss and asked Pakistan to bat first.

The start was good for the Men in green shirts as they maintained a steady run-rate to reach 66 in 11 overs.

It was in the 12th over that India got the first breakthrough as Mosin Khan (31) was caught by Sunil of Deepak Malik. It was the brilliance of Sunil again which got Indian their second wicket as he ran out Amir (10) in the 15th over.

Pakistan's Badar Munir decided to up the ante after their two blows as he reached 50-run mark. But in the 20th over, he fell at 57.

The Indians were brilliant on the field and got the fourth wicket through a run out. D Venkateshwara Rao was the hero this time as he got Rashid (14).

Pakistan reached the 200-run mark in the 27th over but by then Sunil had struck yet again by dismissing Nisar Ali (47). With only 13 more overs left, Pakistan decided to raise the run rate and reached 259/5 in 34 overs.

Finally, Rambir bowled Riyasat Khan (48) to break the sixth wicket stand. Sanaullah (28) continued to strike at the other end and helped Pakistan reached 290 in 38 overs. Though, he got out the tail-enders managed to add 18 more runs in the last two overs.

With the target steep, openers Venkateswara and Prakash Jayaramaiah hit big from the initial overs and took India to 65/0 in eight overs.

Strong stand

Though Venkateswara departed for 35, India continued their onslaught. They reached 111/1 in 15 overs, before the other opener Prakash (44) got run out. India lost another wicket in the 16th over as they stumbled.

But Sunil and captain Ajai held on together to take India to 264/3 in 34 overs, with India needing 44 off 36 balls. But the 35th over sae Sunil (93) get out to Amir Ishfaq and India again seemed to lose their way.

Ajai (62) departed too soon while Mahender (6) followed him quickly as India were six down. With six need off 12 balls, India lost two wickets in the 39th over. But stayed calm till the end to notch a memorable win.

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