Fri, Mar 26, 2004 - Page 24 News List

India celebrates historic win

CRICKET INTERNATIONALS Despite a diplomatic rivalry over Kashmir, relations have improved and Indian cricket fans visiting Pakistan were warmly welcomed

AP , NEW DELHI, LAHORE, PAKISTAN

Cricket rivals India, blue shirts, and Pakistan shake hands after the fifth and final one-day international in Lahore, Pakistan on Wednesday night. India won the match by 40 runs to win the series 3-2.

PHOTO: REUTERS

Hundreds of thousands of cricket fans poured onto streets across India for midnight celebrations early yesterday after their team beat longtime rival Pakistan in their first series of matches.

Fans exploded firecrackers, beat drums, danced and handed out candies after India claimed a 40-run win Wednesday night to clinch the one-day series 3-2.

"It's a big win, I believe we haven't won a series here [in Pakistan] since India's first tour in 1954," a beaming Indian captain Saurav Ganguly said in the Pakistani city of Lahore.

"I prayed for my son and India's victory," said Mehboob Pathan, father of India's young pace bowler Irfan Pathan, who dismissed three top Pakistani batsmen to set India on course for victory.

Mehboob Pathan is a Muslim cleric in the western Indian city of Vadodra.

Despite their rivalry, rooted in decades of mistrust and focused on the divided Himalayan region of Kashmir, diplomatic relations between the two nuclear-armed neighbors have improved dramatically in recent months. Indian cricket fans visiting Pakistan have been warmly welcomed and there have been no reported problems.

On both sides of the border, hopes have been running high that India's first cricket tour of Pakistan in 14 years -- set to last more than a month -- will help reinforce the tentative moves aimed at ending years of bitterness.

Security concerns threatened to stop the Indian tour until India's Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee pushed for it to go ahead.

The Indian team played the tour opener at Karachi, a Pakistani city that has seen a string of terrorists attacks against foreigners and minority Christians in recent years.

Vajpayee watched Wednesday's Indian victory on television. "If 11 players can do it, there is no reason why more than 1 billion people [of India] can't achieve what they desire," he said in footage aired on Indian television.

"The victory has brought smiles on the faces of people," said India's President A. P. J. Abdul Kalam.

The one-dayers will be followed by three test matches, each of which can last up to five days.

the match

India recorded its first one-day series win in Pakistan on Wednesday with a 40-run win in the fifth and deciding one-day international to clinch the series 3-2.

After Vangipurappu Laxman scored his first hundred against Pakistan to lead a strong Indian innings of 293 for seven, left-arm seamer Irfan Pathan (3-29) mopped up the Pakistan top order with three quick wickets as the hosts were dismissed for 253 in 47.5 overs.

It was India's first one-day series win in Pakistan in six attempts since the rival nations first played a limited overs match on Pakistan soil in the 1978-1979 season.

"Over the last year this Indian team has worked very hard. It's fantastic to win in Pakistan, it's a phenomenal effort," Indian captain Sourav Ganguly said.

Moin Khan's effort of 72 runs was not enough to see his side through after Pakistan was reduced to 96 for six in 24 overs. Khan added 99 runs with Shoaib Malik (65) and added 53 runs with number 10 batsman Mohammed Sami (23) before he was bowled by Laxmipathy Balaji (3-62) in the 48th over.

However, the Indian team got a setback when Ganguly was carried off the field on a stretcher after injuring his back in the 10th over with Pakistan struggling at 40 for three.

Fielding at mid-off, Ganguly dived to stop Pakistan captain Inzamam-ul-Haq's drive off seamer Laxmipathy Balaji, but he stayed down writhing in pain.

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