Millennium Post

In nail-biting last match with Pakistan, India saves itself the shivers

India finally ended its losing streak with a nail-biting 10-run victory over arch rivals Pakistan under extreme cold conditions at Feroz Shah Kotla stadium on Sunday.

The jam-packed stadium was witness to some top-class cricketing action dished out by two of the world’s most competitive teams. Given Pakistan’s strong batting line-up, India’s meagre 167 runs target hardly looked enough. However, superb performance by Indian bowlers as well as electric fielding averted the first ODI series whitewash since 1983 when West Indies butchered the hosts 5-0. Rookie seamer Bhubaneshwar Kumar continued to impress by rocking Pakistan’s innings with two early strikes, while debutant Shami Ahmed proved to be his perfect foil, bowling an impeccable line on his first spell.

Though Naseer Jamshed and Misbah-ul-Haq launched a gritty counter attack, once the latter was dismissed for the first time in the series, India clawed back on top. Requiring 21 runs of 12 balls, Md Hafeez heightened the visitor’s hope with successive boundaries off Ishant Sharma in the 49th over. However, all hopes of a Pakistan victory vanished in thin air when Hafeez holed out to Yuvraj Singh at midwicket while trying to clear the infield.

That India had at least 167 to defend was largely down to Dhoni, who was Man of the Match for his captaincy and his 36 off 55 balls, and Jadeja. Having left out Virender Sehwag to give Rahane a run, India lost three early wickets to the pace and swing of Mohammad Irfan and Junaid Khan. And they continued to struggle against Saeed Ajmal, who dismissed Suresh Raina and Ashwin off successive deliveries on his way to a five-wicket haul.

India were 111 for 6 in the 29th over. Dhoni immediately carted Hafeez for his third six over deep midwicket and in a later over he inflicted the blow – a flat smash – that forced the Pakistan opener down the order.

Dhoni fell in the 35th over and Jadeja, because he was running out of partners, began to attack and score what he could. He hit a towering straight six off Umar Gul, and another off Ajmal over cow corner, but his riposte ended on 27. India were dismissed in the 44th over, but the wasted resources did not cost them the game.
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