KARACHI: Pakistan stuttered while chasing 168 as India wrapped up a thrilling 10-run victory to avoid a series whitewash at the hands of the visitors on Sunday at Feroz Shah Kotla in Delhi.
Pakistan restricted India to 167 in 43.4 overs but failed to chase the total as India bowled them out at 157 in 48.5 overs with a fantastic bowling and fielding display.India captain MS Dhoni, who was fit to play after doubts earlier that he might be excluded from the team because of a back injury, won the toss and elected to bat first in chilly conditions. Virender Sehwag was replaced by Ajinkya Rahane while Ashok Dinda made way for debutant Shami Ahmed.
Rahane did not impress as he became India’s first casualty, caught behind by Kamran Akmal off Mohammad Irfan who also removed Gautam Gambhir, bowling a bouncer which the batsman played right into the hands of Umar Akmal at point.
Virat Kohli was the next to go as he was caught out by Younis Khan at second slip off Junaid Khan. Yuvraj Singh followed, bowled out by Mohammad Hafeez.
Dhoni, who was later awarded the man-of-the match award, along with Suresh Raina steadied India after the initial onslaught, adding 48 runs for the fifth wicket before Raina was given out lbw off a straight delivery from Saeed Ajmal.
Ajmal went on to wreak havoc to India’s batting line-up, taking his career best figures of 24-5, dismissing Ravichandran Ashwin, Rajindra Jadeja, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Ishant Sharma.
Umar Gul, despite bowling some of the more expensive overs of the match, took the important wicket of India’s captain at 36 to halt the the hosts’ march towards a bigger total.
In reply, Pakistan picked up slowly and eventually failed in chasing what should have been an easy target to achieve. Kamran Akmal partnered Nasir Jamshed as Hafeez moved down the order due to a finger injury sustained while trying to block a shot played by Dhoni off his own bowling.
Akmal’s poor performance with the bat continued as Kumar dismissed him for a duck lbw and later accounted for Younis Khan.
Jamshed, who was adjudged man-of-the-series for his clinical centuries in the first two ODIs, fell to Ashwin after scoring just 34 runs.
Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq steadied the innings for a while along with Umar Akmal, who was included in place of Azhar Ali, but India’s fielding kept them from causing too much damage to the hosts.
After Misbah was sent back by Ashwin, India took quick wickets to increase the pressure on Pakistan, under which they finally buckled; losing Shoaib Malik for five followed by a stumping which saw the younger Akmal dismissed.
Hafeez, coming in at number seven, was the winning wicket for India as Sharma removed Gul. Ajmal was caught out by Dhoni off Ahmed while confusion on the pitch caused Junaid to be run out.
Mohammad Irfan was the last man standing as India recorded a face-saving, consolation win.