Millennium Post

The tide turns finally!

India’s winter of disappointment finally came to an end on a chilly Sunday evening in the capital with MS Dhoni’s army carving out a thrilling 10-run victory over arch-rivals Pakistan in a low-scoring encounter.

Given Pakistan’s in-form batting line-up, India’s paltry total of 167 hardly looked defendable.

However, some inspired bowling during crucial phases, coupled by rash stroke-making and electrifying fielding, saved India from the humiliation of suffering the first ODI series whitewash in 29 years. The last time India experienced the ignominy was at home in 1983 when Clive Lloyd’s West Indies butchered India 5-0.

Few gave India chance of pulling back the game after their batsmen maintained their consistency of failing to deliver against a disciplined Pakistan attack which made most of the overcast conditions after Dhoni won the toss.

For the third time in the series, India failed to even last the full 50 overs as they were sent packing for 167 in 43.4 overs with off-spinner Saeed Ajmal scalping a career-best 5/24.

Drafted into the team in place of Virender Sehwag, Ajinkya Rahane was far from convincing during his 22-minute stay at the crease which ended with an edge behind the wicket off Mohammad Irfan in the fifth over. Irfan was again in the thick of action in the ninth over when Gautam Gambhir threw away his wicket while chasing a short delivery wide outside off-stump. Junaid Khan delivered a brilliant opening spell and was rightfully rewarded in the tenth over when Virat Kohli edged his length ball straight to Younis Khan at second slip with the scoreboard reading 37/3. 

The Indian ship was steadied for a brief while by a timely stand between skipper MS Dhoni (36) and Suresh Raina (31) but Saeed Ajmal again put Pakistan on top after trapping the latter plumb in front with a tossed up delivery and then nailing Ravichandran Ashwin in the next ball.

The 48-run stand for the fifth wicket did repair the flagging innings to some extent besides proving decisive in the end as Pakistan struggled while chasing.

Dhoni brought the full house on its feet with three towering sixes, but with no support from the other end, he too perished in the 35th over while attempting to slash Umar Gul over point.

Indian tail didn’t last long with Saeed Ajmal tightening the noose around them and the misery finally ended in the 44th over when Ravindra Jadeja (27) holed out to Umar Akmal while trying to hoick the offie out of the ground.

Chasing the small target, Pakistan were pushed on the back foot with seamer Bhuvneshwar Kumar rocking the innings with two early strikes, dismissing Kamran Akmal and Younis Khan. Though visitors recovered a little through a fighting stand between Misbah-ul Haq (39) and Nasir Jamshed (34), the innings collapsed again to bring India back into the game.

Ravindra Jadeja, Ishant Sharma and debutant Shami Ahmed bowled in the right areas and gave little room to the batsmen to free their arms.

The disciplined attack was backed by some brilliant fielding that saw India save at least 30 runs which proved decisive in the end.
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