Saturday, November 29, 2008

Police declare Mumbai siege over

One of the luxury hotels taken over by gunmen in Mumbai is back under the control of the authorities, India's elite commando chief says.

JK Dutt said commandos had killed two militants at the Oberoi-Trident hotel. Police found 24 bodies there, shortly after 93 guests and staff were freed.

Operations continue to rescue hostages at two other city sites, after a series of attacks that left at least 130 dead.

India's foreign minister said "elements with links to Pakistan" were involved.

However, his Pakistani counterpart has urged India not to bring politics into the issue, saying "we should join hands to defeat the enemy".

Gunmen armed with automatic weapons and grenades targeted at least seven sites in Mumbai late on Wednesday, opening fire indiscriminately on crowds at a major railway station, the two hotels, the Jewish centre, a hospital and a cafe frequented by foreigners.

Some 370 people have been injured, while the death toll is expected to rise as more bodies are discovered. One security official said eight foreigners were known to have died, among them three Germans, a Japanese, Canadian and Australian.

'Bodies in hall'

Mr Dutt, the director-general of India's National Security Guard, said the Oberoi-Trident was "under our control".

"We have killed two terrorists today," he said. "There was lots of firing, they also lobbed hand grenades. Some of them are unexploded, we are going to defuse them - you may hear some sound of explosions."

Indian security forces outside the Taj Mahal hotel in Mumbai on 28/11/08
Security troops are battling at least one militant still in the hotel

Earlier, the army said at least one gunman with "two or more hostages" remained in the Taj Mahal Palace hotel.

Gunfire and explosions continue to be heard, after more than 100 commandos went into the hotel. A journalist and bystander outside the hotel were taken to hospital after being hit by shrapnel.

Indian commandos who managed to enter other parts of the Taj Mahal say they found at least 30 bodies in one hall.

The commandos also said the militants were well aware of the layout of the hotel, and that they had recovered a Mauritius identity card as well as guns and money.

The relief of the guests at the Oberoi-Trident was evident as 93 of them were escorted from the hotel on Friday morning following the lengthy siege. They included 20 Air France crew members.

One of those freed, Briton Mark Abell, spoke of his delight at seeing several heavily armed soldiers at his hotel door after spending more than 36 hours in his room.

But he was shocked by the state of the hotel. "The lobby was carnage, blood and guts everywhere. It was very upsetting," he told the BBC.

Smoke bombs

At first light, helicopters swooped over the Nariman House business and residential complex in south Mumbai, which houses the Jewish outreach group Chabad Lubavitch.

Commandos initially dropped smoke bombs to create confusion, and then several troops abseiled down ropes to secure the roof.

They are said to have been tentatively moving down through the building, trying not to cause casualties among the hostages.

Earlier, a woman and child were seen leaving the building, but it was unclear whether they had managed to escape or were released.

The child was identified as the two-year-old son of Rabbi Gavriel Noach Holzberg, the main representative at the ultra-orthodox outreach centre. There was no word on the rabbi's fate.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Pakistan condemns Mumbai attack, offers cooperation

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - Pakistan condemned on Thursday militant attacks in the Indian city of Mumbai in which at least 101 people have been killed, and promised full support and cooperation in fighting terrorism.

India has in the past accused elements in Pakistan of supporting Islamist militants battling Indian forces in the disputed Kashmir region, and of complicity in bomb attacks elsewhere in India.

In separate messages, President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani deplored the Mumbai attacks, the state-run APP news agency said.

"President Zardari stressed the need for taking strict measures to eradicate terrorism and extremism from the region," it said.

Gilani also strongly condemned the violence and said Pakistan had always opposed terrorism, the government said in a statement. Zardari, the widower of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, and Gilani came to power after February elections that restored democratic, civilian rule.

Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi arrived in India on Wednesday for a four-day visit that will include talks on the nuclear-armed rivals' tentative four-year peace process.

Their main dispute is over the Himalayan region of Kashmir, which both countries claim in full but rule in part. Pakistan offers political support for what it calls a freedom struggle in mostly Muslim Kashmir but denies supporting terrorism.

Qureshi said in a statement he was shocked and horrified by the "barbaric" attacks in Mumbai.

Noting a spate of recent attacks in Pakistan, including a suicide truck bomb attack on one of Islamabad's top hotels in September, Qureshi said all civilised societies had to work together to deal with terrorism.


Dozens still held hostage in Mumbai after night of terror attacks Coordinated series of attacks leave at least 101 people dead

Dozens of people were being kept hostage by gunmen in India's financial capital Mumbai today, more than 12 hours after coordinated attacks on luxury hotels, popular restaurants, a rail terminus and an ultra-orthodox Jewish centre.

The Maharashtra state police chief, AN Roy, said the hostage situation had ended at the Taj Mahal hotel but there were still apparently hostages in the Oberoi hotel.

The death toll has risen to 101 with more than 300 people injured. Police and gunmen exchanged heavy gunfire early this morning. Several people managed to flee the Taj hotel, the roof of which was destroyed after heavy fires raged through the night.

"People who were held up there [Taj hotel], they have all been rescued," Roy told the NDTV news channel. "But there are guests in the rooms, we don't know how many."

"That is why the operation is being conducted more sensitively to ensure there are no casualties of innocent people."

At noon local time (6.30am GMT) two bodies covered with white sheets were wheeled out of the Taj hotel entrance and put in ambulances. During the night a series of explosions had rocked the building.

At the nearby Oberoi hotel, soldiers could be seen on the roof of neighboring buildings. A banner hanging out of one window read "Save us".

"We did not know anything, we just heard gunshots. It was a long night for us," said Nasim Desai, a South African visiting her family in India.

Indian television reported that a Singaporean woman had called her embassy and asked Indian security forces not to attack the Oberoi or the terrorists would kill her.

Officials at Bombay hospital, speaking on condition of anonymity, said a Japanese man had died there and nine Europeans had been admitted, three of them in a critical condition with gunshot wounds. All had come from the Taj Mahal hotel, the officials said.

Gunmen seized the Mumbai headquarters of an ultra-orthodox Jewish outreach group, Chabad Lubavitch. Indian commandos surrounded the building this morning and witnesses said gunfire could be heard from inside.

A spokesman for the Lubavitch movement in New York, Rabbi Zalman Shmotkin, said attackers "stormed the Chabad house" in Mumbai.

"It seems that the terrorists commandeered a police vehicle which allowed them easy access to the area of the Chabad house and threw a grenade at a gas pump nearby," he said.

The home secretary for Maharashtra state, Bipin Shrimali, said four suspects were killed when they tried to flee in cars, while four more gunmen were reported killed at the Taj Mahal hotel. Officials said nine more had been arrested but gave no further details.

Mumbai has frequently been targeted in terrorist attacks blamed on Islamist militants, including a series of bombings in July 2006 that killed 187 people.

An Indian media report said a previously unknown group calling itself the Deccan Mujahideen had claimed responsibility for the latest attacks in emails to several media outlets. There was no way to verify the claim.

Mumbai was today turned into a ghost town, with the normally chaotic and crowded streets eerily still.

The only movement was by police, army and commando units making their way through labyrinthine back alleys. The state government ordered schools, colleges and the Bombay stock exchange to close for the day.

"We blame the intelligence - the government spends so much money and nothing happens. Then these people come and do whatever they want," said one local resident, Richard Madhavan, 34.

Many Mumbai residents have experienced similar violence before, either in the form of bombings or gunfights between mobsters and police. But no one was prepared for the running gun battles or the coordinated execution of last night's violence.

"Bombay's streets are used to violence," said Dinesh Bhandari, 41. "Tomorrow we'll be back to work."


Saturday, November 22, 2008

5 Fresh Car Concepts

Extreme concepts with an eye on the future.

By Matt DeLorenzo | Photos by John Lamm and Marc Urbano

2008 LA Auto Show Honda FC Sport Concept
Honda FC Sport Concept

Auto shows rely on concept cars to generate excitement and the Los Angeles show is no different — its loaded with fresh ideas ranging from futuristic sports cars to alternative takes on everyday transportation. Here are five top picks that someday may make it from show stand to showroom floor.

Honda FC Sport Concept

Showing that there will be a sporting life beyond internal combustion engines, the Honda FC Sport Concept is a design study that shows what a high-performance fuel-cell car may look like. This unique package seats three with the driver in the center, flanked on each side in back by a passenger. The fuel-cell powertrain components are packaged in the center of the vehicle for a low center of gravity and ideal weight distribution. While only a show car today, the FC Sport Concept is evidence that Honda believes fuel-cells will offer serious performance in the future.

Dodge EV concept

Chrysler's vision of the future has the electric car providing more than a modicum of performance. The Dodge EV show car takes a page from the Tesla playbook in calling on the expertise of British sports car maker Lotus as a chassis partner in its electric dreams. Dodge has modified the European-market Lotus Europa to take a lithium-ion battery pack and a 268-hp electric motor to provide 0–60 mph acceleration of less than 5 seconds.

Jeep Wrangler EV

Alternative power isn't just for the street, as the Jeep EV demonstrates. Based on the terrain-eating Wrangler, the EV is a range-extended electric vehicle that uses lithium-ion batteries that can provide up to 40 miles of pure electric range before a small gasoline engine takes over to drive the electric motor and extend the range to 400 miles. As in the Dodge EV, the electric motor has 268 horsepower, giving the EV a top speed of more than 90 mph.

2010 Mini E

2008 LA Auto Show 2010 Mini E
2010 Mini E

BMW's Mini will further burnish its image as a hip urban car with the introduction of the Mini E, an electric version of its 3-door hatchback, which the company will deploy in a fleet of about 500 units for private use in daily traffic. The Mini E is powered by a 204-hp electric motor connected to a lithium-ion battery pack. Mini says the car has a range of 156 miles and will be demonstrated in selected markets in New York, New Jersey and California.

Toyota CNG Camry Hybrid

While pure electric vehicles are garnering a lot of attention, another fuel, Compressed Natural Gas (CNG), is beginning to come to the fore as an alternative to traditional gasoline and diesel fuels, especially when used in combination with a hybrid powerplant. To explore that potential, the Toyota CNG Camry Hybrid relies on clean-burning CNG in a conventional internal combustion powerplant teamed with the company's hybrid synergy drive technology to provide yet another choice on the green car menu.

Link :

Why mailmen give up...?

It's a discovery worthy of a murder mystery: In a parking lot in the mountains outside Santa Cruz, Calif., a truck is found abandoned, the keys still hanging in the door. Inside the police find … a note? A body?

Not quite. Try 13,000 pieces of undelivered mail.

The recent discovery in Bonny Doon, Calif., of a former mail carrier's old stash was not exactly unprecedented. There's also the recent arrest of a Detroit postal carrier who squirreled away 9,000 pieces of mail into a storage locker, a work dodge worthy of a Seinfeld plot. A week earlier, a postman was nailed for hoarding 27,000 letters in Leeds, England; the week before that revealed a postal hoarder with 20,000 letters in Frankfurt, Germany. ("[He] didn't deliver mail addressed to himself either," a police statement dryly noted.) And all of them were dwarfed by the North Carolina postman who admitted in August to filling his garage and burying in his backyard nearly a tractor trailer's worth of undelivered junk mail.

But the hoarding and abandonment of mail is a phenomenon that extends at least back to 1874, when Providence, R.I., postman Benjamin Salisbury was caught throwing mail into the ocean "to avoid the trouble of delivery." Some things don't change much; a Long Island postman used the same MO in 1954, when he blamed a bum leg from the war for forcing him to dump his mail off a local pier. The scheme kind of worked … until the tide came in.

In 2006, the last year the U.S. Postal Service released figures, there were 515 arrests and 466 convictions for "internal theft." That figure includes abandonment and hoarding cases, where the motive has remained constant since the days of penny postage: A worker gets overwhelmed or simply disinclined to finish his route. "It's not a huge issue," Agapi Doulaveris of the U.S. Office of the Inspector General told me. "We work on referrals."

And there's the rub: For a referral to happen, first someone has to notice.

The deliveries affected are often what the U.S. Postal Service now terms "standard mail"—and what the rest of us call "junk." With the railroad-driven growth in catalogs, postal abandonment stories were already common by the 1880s. The New York Times complained of mailmen burning their bundles and in 1883 ran the immortal headline "To Deliver His Letters Some Time" after the discovery of a mailman's old stash in the basement of an Upper East Side saloon.

For a mail-sack slacker, there's a dark allure to hoarding junk. Think about it: If someone's first-class mail with paychecks or credit card bills doesn't show up, they're liable to complain. But if the umpteenth Eddie Bauer catalog doesn't arrive, well … who's gonna notice?


Road detour for Depp movie shoot costs county

By SCOTT BAUER, Associated Press Writer Scott Bauer, Associated Press Writer

MADISON, Wis. – County officials in Wisconsin are holding the bag following a movie shoot involving Johnny Depp as famed bank robber John Dillinger.

During filming of "Public Enemies" — Wisconsin's first film under the governor's new movie incentives — state highway traffic was diverted away from the center of Columbus, 70 miles northwest of Milwaukee. The detour road couldn't stand the load — and collapsed.

Dodge County was left with a $116,000 repair. It's filed a claim against the city of Columbus that could lead to a lawsuit.

But Columbus Mayor Nancy Osterhaus says talks are ongoing between the city, county and film studio NBC Universal, with hopes that they might split the bill for the March mishap.

"Public Enemies" is out July 2, 2009


Cholera outbreak strikes Zimbabwe

Nearly 300 people have died in Zimbabwe in recent weeks in a cholera outbreak which has hit about 6,000 people, the World Health Organization reports.

The UN body predicted the water-borne disease would continue to spread because of poor sanitation in the impoverished country's urban areas.

Many hospitals have shut down and most towns suffer from poor water supply, broken sewers and uncollected waste.

An outbreak of cholera on this scale is rare in Zimbabwe, correspondents say.

The outbreak is likely to continue as the water and sanitation situation is worsening
WHO statement

While the disease is endemic in Zimbabwe, it seems this will be the worst outbreak since 2000, Michel Van Herp of the aid agency Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) told the BBC.

The WHO said that tackling the problem would be difficult because of the local shortage of drugs, medical supplies and health professionals, and the start of the rainy season was "also of concern".

"The outbreak is likely to continue as the water and sanitation situation is worsening, with severe shortages of potable water, sewage and waste disposal problems reported in most of the populated areas," a WHO statement said.

In Geneva, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs specified that cholera had spread to all of Zimbabwe's provinces.

It and the WHO put the total number of suspected cholera as of 18 November at 6,072 with 294 deaths.


Zimbabwe's own government has reported fewer deaths, putting the figure at 90, but Health Minister David Parirenyatwa said this week that his ministry was "battling to control unprecedented... outbreaks".

An intestinal infection caused by bacteria
Is often linked to contaminated supplies of drinking water
Can spread quickly in areas where there is poor sanitation
Rarely spread by person-to-person contact
Most people infected do not actually get ill

He identified Budiriro, a suburb of the capital Harare, as "the epicentre of the disease", adding that the current wave of cholera had begun in September in Chitungwiza, a satellite town south of Harare.

Admitting the situation in government hospitals was "bad", he told the Herald newspaper he hoped food would soon be made available under the Reserve Bank's programme to ensure Zimbabweans had basic commodities.

The country's Association of Doctors for Human Rights highlighted the dire state of a health service once widely admired in Africa.

"Our health delivery system, previously the envy of many developing countries, is now teetering on the verge of virtual collapse," it said.

"Sick people in need of medical attention are being turned away from Zimbabwe's hospitals and clinics."

Outpatients reception at Harare Central Hopsital
The usually busy reception at Harare Central is deserted

Harare's Central Hospital officially closed down last week and now hardly a doctor or nurse is in sight, Zimbabwean journalist Brian Hungwe reports from the city.

Cholera-sufferers would be "coming to hospital to die because there is nobody to care for anyone", said Dr Malvern Nyamutora, vice-chairman of the Junior Doctors' Association.

"Cholera is treatable, just fluids and tetracycline [an anti-biotic] is enough, but if you get people dying of this diarrhoea - that explains the state of the health crisis," he added.


European online library crashes

A new digital library launched by the European Union has crashed within hours of opening - forcing its closure.

The Europeana website was attracting more than 10 million hits an hour - more than double the number which had been anticipated.

The site includes paintings, photos, films, books, maps and manuscripts from 1,000 museums, national libraries and archives across Europe.

It is expected to reopen in December after technological improvements.

Users clicking on currently find a message saying the site is "temporarily not accessible due to overwhelming interest after its launch".

It adds: "We're doing our utmost to reopen Europeana in a more robust version as soon as possible. We'll be back by mid-December."

It confirms it's worth doing, European culture is more popular than we had anticipated in our wildest dreams
Spokesman, EU Commission

"Thousands of users were searching for the words 'Mona Lisa' at the same time", explained a spokesman for the European Commission.

"It confirms it's worth doing, European culture is more popular than we had anticipated in our wildest dreams," he said.

After a massive surge just before Europeana's launch, the system's creators doubled the number of servers from three to six and got it working again for a short time.

However they will now perform more tests to ensure the digital library can stay open at peak times.

On Thursday, most hits came from Germany, followed by France and Spain.

However, 4% of online requests about Europe's cultural heritage came from the United States.


Friday, November 21, 2008

Harry Potter's Not Opening, and They're Not Over It

Joal Ryan

Los Angeles (E! Online) – The fan petitions are still growing. The movie is still not coming out.

Friday was supposed to be the day Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince opened. Instead, over the summer, Warner Bros. rescheduled the franchise's latest adventure for next July, a move that caused a fan upset that hasn't entirely settled.

"I think most fans are disappointed more than angry, and definitely skeptical of the real motive behind the delay," said Sara Greer, editor of the Harry Potter fan site MuggleNet.

A fan identifying herself as Jen Stewart said in an email she felt the studio was "pandering" when it pointed out the reschedule, attributed, in part, to fallout from the writers' strike, meant a shorter wait between Half-Blood Prince and the first part of the two-part finale, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

"I don't know about everyone but I am still just as upset as I was over the summer," Stewart said.

Interestingly, the recent release of the new Half-Blood Prince trailer doesn't seem to have appeased the most seriously aggrieved. Dozens and dozens of new names are still being added to one popular online petition that's more sounding board, than call to action.

"Ahhh. I can't wait until next year! I want it this year," one signer wrote Thursday.

The post's emoticon tag—:(—left no doubt as to how bad the signer wanted it.

Greer even compared the new trailer to a "bit of torture."

"The new trailer was a treat, sure, it just made a lot of us more impatient to see the film," she said in an email. "Especially since all the Twilight fans will get their fangirl on instead!"

Ah, yes, Twilight…

In one more painful twist, the Half-Blood Prince trailer is attached to prints of Twilight, the based-on-a-best-seller movie that is opening Friday because Half-Blood Prince isn't. (Originally, Twilight was going to hit theaters in December.)

"A former MuggleNet editor commented she was probably going to see Twilight just for the new trailer in all its big screen glory," Greer said. "I think I'll just reread the books and wait for summer."

At least her emoticon tag—;)—was upbeat.


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Pakistan v West Indies, 3rd ODI, Abu Dhabi

'This win is a big boost' - Malik

Pakistan's 3-0 whitewash of West Indies in Abu Dhabi has primed them for the upcoming series against India, their captain Shoaib Malik has said. Younis Khan hit 101 and Rao Ifthikar Anjum took 4-59 in Pakistan's 31-run win in the last game, a win which Malik praised as a solid team effort.

"Before the start of this series, I had asked the players to play to potential and show commitment," Malik said. "They have done that quite well and I am pleased they have given their best here.

"In the second match, our total was small but we knew that they heavily depend on Chris Gayle. We planned to get Gayle out early and did it. We also did well in saving boundaries as planned. We have not played international cricket in a long time, but that hasn't deterred us. This win is a big boost to our confidence ahead of the series against India."

Pakistan have been starved of international cricket this year with several teams refusing to tour the country due to security reasons. India are scheduled to play three Tests and five ODIs in Pakistan in January and February next year. There are doubts over the tour due to security worries, but Malik was hopeful of a tough series.

"The way India are playing we would need to be at our best and do extra work to beat them," Malik said.

Younis, Man of the Match after his hundred, said India could be beaten. "This is pretty much the same team we played and beat last year. The only difference is they have an aggressive captain in [Mahendra Singh] Dhoni. But Dhoni has been very lucky as his changes and decisions have all paid off. His real test will come when luck deserts him."

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Mystery solved: How bleach kills germs

CHICAGO (Reuters) – Bleach has been killing germs for more than 200 years but U.S. scientists have just figured out how the cleaner does its dirty work.

It seems that hypochlorous acid, the active ingredient in bleach, attacks proteins in bacteria, causing them to clump up much like an egg that has been boiled, a team at the University of Michigan reported in the journal Cell on Thursday.

The discovery, which may better explain how humans fight off infections, came quite by accident.

"As so often happens in science, we did not set out to address this question," Ursula Jakob, who led the team, said in a statement.

The researchers had been studying a bacterial protein called heat shock protein 33, which is a kind of molecular chaperon that becomes active when cells are in distress, for example from the high temperature of a fever.

In this case, the source of the distress was hypochlorous acid or hypochlorite.

Jakob's team figured out that bleach and high temperatures have very similar effects on proteins.

When they exposed the bacteria to bleach, the heat shock protein became active in an attempt to protect other proteins in the bacteria from losing their chemical structure, forming clumps that would eventually die off.

"Many of the proteins that hypochlorite attacks are essential for bacterial growth, so inactivating those proteins likely kills the bacteria," Marianne Ilbert, a postdoctoral fellow in Jakob's lab, said in a statement.

The researchers said the human immune system produces hypochlorous acid in response to infection but the substance does not kill only the bacterial invaders. It kills human cells too, which may explain how tissue is destroyed in chronic inflammation.

"Hypochlorous acid is an important part of host defense," Jakob said. "It's not just something we use on our countertops."

(Editing by Maggie Fox and John O'Callaghan)


Friday, November 14, 2008

Pakistan v West Indies, 2nd ODI, Abu Dhabi

Pakistan Won a battle out of the shell in the 2nd ODI against West Indies.

Unlike the first one-dayer, which was full of manic fireworks, the second one was more of a slow-burning scrap. Like the first one-dayer, Pakistan were second-best at the halfway stage but came out on top in a tight finish, this win sealing the series. Like in the first one-dayer, there was a dogged century from a senior West Indies batsman - Shivnarine Chanderpaul this time - but there wasn't enough support for him from the rest.

Sohail Tanvir's menacing opening spell helped Pakistan fight back after a disciplined West Indies bowling had kept them down to a less-than-average total. He was the star performer but each member of the Pakistan attack played his part: Umar Gul hounded the batsmen with a mix of bouncers and yorkers, Iftikhar Anjum kept probing away just outside off stump and was unlucky to not get more than one wicket, Shahid Afridi provided the crucial breakthrough by removing Ramnaresh Sarwan, and Saeed Ajmal confounded West Indies with his doosras.

Pakistan 232 (Misbah 52, Taylor 3-38, Powell 3-50) beat West Indies 208 (Chanderpaul 107*, Gul 3-44 ) by 24 runs

Pakistan has won the 3 Match ODI series.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Pakistan v West Indies, 1st ODI, Abu Dhabi

Akmal and Malik script a thriller

The Bulletin by Jamie Alter

49.5 overs Pakistan 295 for 6 (Manzoor 69, Malik 66, Younis 56) beat West Indies 294 for 9 (Gayle 113, Sarwan 55, Tanvir 3-42) by four wickets

Those who say 50-overs cricket has lost its ticker needed to look no further than the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi for a humdinger. In a throwback to the days of Sharjah classics, Pakistan overcame a sluggish start and a middle-order wobble to sneak the most thrilling of last-over wins over West Indies. Khurram Manzoor and Younis Khan helped Pakistan overcome a jittery start and gather some steam, but it was Shoaib Malik's whirlwind 66 and a stunning last-over assault from Kamran Akmal that pulled the carpet from beneath West Indies' feet.

After winning the toss and batting, West Indies settled for an below-par 294, which owed plenty to Chris Gayle's glorious 113, his 17th one-day hundred and second on the trot after an unbeaten 110 against Canada in August. Just 96 runs were scored since Gayle departed in the 35th over, and only 71 in the last ten overs, credit to Pakistan for sticking to their guns on a hard pitch. Ultimately, that made a big difference.

The last 15 minutes of the match were nerve-wracking. Akmal amazingly swept the last ball of the 48th off, by Jerome Taylor, for six, but a miserly penultimate over from Gayle seemed to have sealed it West Indies' way. Fawad Alam failed to put away a full toss, Gayle bowled Akmal with a no-ball, and Akmal then survived a stumping appeal. The over cost only six runs.

Needing 17 from the last over, Akmal slashed the third and fourth deliveries for six, backing away, to cue hysteria in the ground. A scampered two became three with an overthrow, and Alam clipped the fifth delivery of the final over for a single to seal victory. Akmal's 24 from nine balls, however, was the clincher.

When Pakistan struggled initially under lights in the first 15 overs, this was hard to envision. In the absence of any fluency from Salman Butt, it was left to Manzoor to keep the score ticking over. Manzoor played himself, reaching his second half-century in two ODIs played for Pakistan, one full of punchy back-foot play. Younis Khan, Pakistan's most experienced batsman after Mohammad Yousuf joined the ICL, hit consecutive boundaries in the 23rd over - one driven off the back foot, the other lapped very fine -to up the rate.

Taylor was brought back in the 28th over to do a job, and he succeeded. Taylor dropped short, Manzoor tried to run it fine, and Carlton Baugh held on to the thin outside edge (142 for 2). Younis swept his way to half-century from 50 balls, but the pressure told on Misbah-ul-Haq, way too early into a reverse-sweep against Nikita Miller's left-arm spin.

As per the new rules, the batting side can choose one Powerplay and Pakistan left the third one until the 38th over. It was a critical phase and Pakistan lost two wickets for 38. Unable to pierce the field like Malik, Younis slogged Baker into the starry night while Shahid Afridi pulled Baker to a tumbling Shivnarine Chanderpaul at deep midwicket. Malik made sure to hit the ball as straight as possible and went past 50 from 36 balls, but when Pakistan needed 33 from 18 balls, he pulled Taylor to midwicket.

Akmal's heroics, though, spoiled what should have been Gayle's party. The venue changed from Antigua to Abu Dhabi, the format from Twenty20 to 50-overs, but what did Gayle care? After five overs West Indies were 11 for 0; that's when Gayle moved up a gear, stepping outside the line of a delivery from Abdur Rauf and swinging it over midwicket for six.

Rauf, who opened the attack in the absence of an injured Shoaib Akhtar, was then taken for 17 in one over. A whip over mid-on was followed by a flick off the pads. Then Rauf pitched outside off stump and craned his neck as Gayle biffed him over his head. Shoaib Malik removed third man and Gayle smartly steered the ball past the wicketkeeper. Having hit a 33-ball half-century in the Stanford 20/20 for 20 earlier this month, Gayle enjoyed his first trip to Abu Dhabi. Sohail Tanvir was cracked past point and West Indies' fifty was up in the tenth over with consecutive pulled sixes in Umar Gul's first over. In five overs, 48 had been scored, and Gayle's half-century needed 36 balls.

Sewnarine Chattergoon contributed 33 to an opening stand of 125, the sixth-best for West Indies against Pakistan, content to play second fiddle before an attempted heave against the turn went to mid-on. Ramnaresh Sarwan partnered Gayle past his century - in a 73-run stand - and watched him get out for 113 after a series of attacking shots, the last of which went straight to midwicket (198 for 2) in an over in which he had been dropped by Gul. Sarwan used his wrists well and leapt on to anything short, hitting five boundaries before he tickled Afridi down the pads in the 38th over. But Gul came back well to take 3 for 66 and Tanvir took two in two balls during the last over as West Indies failed to build on Gayle's innings.

A cricket-starved Pakistan came to Abu Dhabi wanting to win. They've certainly started well.

Jamie Alter is a senior sub-editor at Cricinfo