MOHALI, INDIA - MARCH 30: Umar Akmal of Pakistan is bowled by Harbhajan Singh of India with MS Dhoni of India looking on during the 2011 ICC World Cup second Semi-Final between Pakistan and India at Punjab Cricket Association (PCA) Stadium on March 30, 2011 in Mohali, India. (Photo by Hamish Blair/Getty Images)

Cricket World Cup 2011, India Vs. Pakistan: India Wins By 29 Runs

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Cricket World Cup 2011, India Vs. Pakistan: Hosts Win By 29 Runs

India have defeated Pakistan at Mohali in their ICC World Cup semi-final today by a score of 260-9 to 231 all out. India now advance to the final to play co-hosts Sri Lanka on Saturday, having made secure what had initially seemed like a shaky run total thanks to some superb bowling and shaky batting from the visitors. Ultimately, Pakistan simply couldn't score runs fast enough, and their final wickets fell swiftly as they chased an impossible run rate with increasing abandon.

For their part, India made the most of a strong start (they scored 21 runs in the third over alone) and some extraordinary luck on the part of Sachin Tendulkar. The legendary batsman was within whiskers of being given out on no less than six occasions, eventually succumbing in the 37th over after sending a ball to Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi at extra-cover*. Tendulkar had survived a huge lbw** appeal in an eventful eleventh over as well as four dropped catches to eventually notch 86 runs.

*A helpful illustrated guide to cricket fielding positions for the non-initated.

**Lbw is short for 'Leg before wicket'; i.e. the ball strikes the batter's leg when it would have hit the stumps.

However, middle-order batting let the side down, and both Virat Kohli and Yuvraj Singh were set down by fast bowler Wahab Riaz with India on 141 runs. Tendulkar's wicket fell forty runs later, and it was up to captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Suresh Raina to guide India back on course. Things looked dicey when Dhoni was given out lbw from another Riaz delivery in the 42nd over (after yet another dropped catch!), but Raina steadied the ship with an excellent display, finishing up the India innings with a score of 36 not out.

260 runs may not have been the total India had envisioned after Virender Sehwag's magnificent start - the opener scored 36 runs from just 25 deliveries with nine boundaries before being given lbw - but it was enough to give them a slight advantage going into Pakistan's innings. For the visitors, Riaz gave an excellent bowling display, recording five wickets (including Sehwag's), but their fielding was somewhere on the wrong side of 'atrocious.' Dropping that many catches against the likes of Tendulkar is nothing short of suicidal, and the final score might have been very different had they taken any number of the gilt-edged opportunities they had to remove him from the crease.

Needing 261 runs for the win a rate of a little over five runs an over, Pakistan started out in assured fashion, unable to match Sehwag's remarkable scoring clip but not really needing to either - as long as their middle order didn't get itself out, the target was within reach. Unfortunately for the visitors, they pressed the self-destruct button, pressing too hard for the runs they needed, and as wickets started to fall the pressure built up and batting discipline seemed to evaporate.

Kamran Akmal was the first to fall, Zaheer Khan forcing the opener to snatch at a shot which Yuvraj caught at point. Bizarre shot selection from a man who should know better gave India their next wicket when Mohammad Hafeez tried a frankly silly shot on a ball out of his reach. Hafeez was unable to do more than edge it to wicketkeeper Dhoni who held on for an easy out. Asad Shafiq and Younis Khan fell shortly after the hundred mark in a wretched three-over spell from Pakistan which saw them lose two wickets for six runs, and with the score at 106-4 with 24 overs left, the required scoring rate was more than six an over.

While the rest of Pakistan's batters were guilty of pressing too hard, Misbah-ul-Haq was having none of that nonsense, and slowed the game down, doing his best to end the flow of wickets but unfortunately making the run chase even more difficult. His game perked up towards the end of the match, eventually scoring 56 runs, but Misbah's insistence on playing things slow and steady was at odds with what was required.

Umar Akmal, on the other hand, was more than happy to try to clobber everything India could throw at him, and for a little while it seemed as though the 20 year-old could change the course of the game. A pair of monstrous sixes gave Pakistan some hope, but Harbhajan Singh ended that threat with a superb piece of spin-bowling, catching the young batsman off-guard with a beautiful delivery which swerved into his off-stump.

It became quickly apparent that Akmal's stand was to be the last major piece of Pakistani resistance, and India's bowlers started to slice the tail-end apart. Munaf Patel bowled Abdul Razzaq for three, and when Harbhajan induced Shahid Afridi into skying a shot it really was all over for Pakistan, who were then 184-7 with just over eight overs left. By then, an India victory was nothing short of a formality, and they closed things out by catching Misbah at long on.

It was a superb performance by Indian bowling, who conceded just eight extras over their 49 plus overs of work. It was also frankly a wretched day for Pakistan's batters and fielders - had they been a little less prone to monstrous gaffes in the field and at the crease, they had a very real chance of winning this game. As it is, India advance to the finals, where Sachin Tendulkar will square off against Sri Lanka's ace spinner Muttiah Muralitharan in Mumbai.

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