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Pakistan clinches one-day series

Sanjay Rajan

Inzamam's focus was to retain wickets till the end overs and then give the charge.


MISSION ACCOMPLISHED: The jubilant Pakistan team, which won the One-day series, with the cup.

NEW DELHI: Even as the Pakistan captain Inzamam-ul-Haq stood at the wicket, hands on his hips, visibly appalled by the caught-behind decision handed out by umpire A.V. Jayaprakash, you could make out from Rahul Dravid's visage that the Indian team had clearly been outplayed in the first half of the final face-off.

Inzamam's dismissal — the willow was nowhere near Ajit Agarkar's delivery which was pitched wide outside off-stump — had come only in the last over of the innings, by which time the Sultan of Multan (68) had guided his team to a commanding position.

Opting to bat, the visitor finished at an imposing 303 for eight on the recently re-laid Ferozeshah Kotla turf, which progressively assisted both bounce and spin.

Thereafter, Younis Khan — standing in for Inzamam who did not take the field owing to a back spasm — applied pressure and saw the famed Indian batting line-up crumble for just 144 in the sixth and final contest of the Pepsi Cup limited-overs series here on Sunday.

The victory, by a whopping margin of 159 runs, meant that the Men in Green took the series 4-2.

On Saturday, Dravid had mentioned that the early dismissal of Shahid Afridi and how well the host contains Pakistan in the first 15 overs would be the key to the contest.

India got Afridi by the 10th over, but not before the maverick all-rounder had taken the score to 68 — out of which he scored 44 — despite Salman Butt falling early to Zaheer Khan.

Malik — superb timer

All-rounder Shoaib Malik, in whose abilities Inzamam has tremendous faith, rose to the occasion. A superb timer of the ball, Malik can tear apart an attack or milk it with cleverly placed ones and twos, with equal felicity. He laid anchor after being instructed to do so.

Throughout the ODI series, Dravid had maintained that the host conceded too many runs — in ones and twos — in the middle overs. And this was precisely what he did not want to allow this time around. Only, the wily Inzamam is the perceptive sort who knows what to expect.

Malik, adjudged Man of the Match for his controlled innings of 72, and Yousuf Youhana (50), kept the momentum going so that the side got to 100 by the 15th over with the start it wanted, and then eased the pace.

Two changes

India made two changes to the XI from the from the previous match, with seamers Ashish Nehra and Agarkar replacing Anil Kumble and L. Balaji, which meant that the attack comprised three medium-pacers and one specialist spinner in Harbhajan Singh.

Dravid introduced Harbhajan in the 14th over and the left-arm spin of all-rounder Dinesh Mongia in the 19th, and the two bowled tightly. There was Tendulkar's leg-spin too to add variety. So much so that in the 25 overs between the 16th and the 40th, Pakistan managed just 109 runs.

During this period, Youhana added 85 for the third wicket with Malik before being run out to a direct hit by Tendulkar from short third-man, and Malik and Inzamam added 38 for the next before the former was bowled by Agarkar.

Dravid had maintained pressure through aggressive and clever field placements. He stationed his two best fielders, Yuvraj Singh and Md. Kaif, at square-leg and short mid-wicket when Harbhajan was bowling to the right-handers. And when Mongia bowled to Inzamam, Yuvraj fielded at midwicket and Kaif at covers.

Inzamam's focus

Inzamam and Younis (40) put on 91 for the fifth wicket, scored at a fast clip towards the later part, to which India had no answer.

In the four straight victories that Pakistan scored to win the series, Inzamam's focus was to retain wickets till the end overs and then give the charge. And so, the Men in Green rattled up 91 in the last 10 overs.

A target of 304 was never going to be easy for India, considering the magnitude of the chase and the weight of expectations. A solid start was always going to be necessary, which the opening pair of Virender Sehwag and Tendulkar failed to provide.

Rana Naved-ul-Hasan, adjudged Man of the Series, scalped Sehwag for the fourth time in six innings, when the opener, aiming to play over slips, played into Afridi's hands at lone slip.

Tendulkar departed the following over, bowled through the gate — the ball scraping the front pad in the process — by the tall swing bowler Rao Iftikhar Anjum, who got that particular delivery to move in.

Dravid was India's only serious hope, but when `The Wall' exited, run out to a direct hit at the non-striker's end by Youhana from mid-on, it left the host struggling at 64 for three and it was the beginning of the end.

It was a procession thereafter by the middle-order, which led to throwing of plastic bottles onto the ground by a section of the spectators, after Kaif's dismissal (94 for six). This saw 16 minutes of play lost and a general state of unrest in the galleries. The end came swiftly once play resumed.

S. Butt c Sehwag

b Zaheer

S. Afridi c Dhoni

b Nehra

(23b, 6x4, 1x6)
S. Malik b Agarkar72
(87b, 8x4)
Y. Youhana (run out)50
(59b, 3x4, 1x6)
Inzamam c Dhoni

b Agarkar

(69b, 7x4)
Younis c & b Nehra40
(42b, 3x4, 1x6)
A. Razzaq c Sehwag

b Nehra

Kamran b Agarkar5
Rana (not out)9
(3b, 2x4)
Extras (1b-5, w-7)12
— —
Total (for eight wkts.

in 50 overs)

— —

Fall of wickets: 1-28 (Butt), 2-68 (Afridi), 3-153 (Youhana), 4-191 (Malik), 5-282 (Younis), 6-282 (Razzaq), 7-294 (Inzamam), 8-303 (Kamran).

India bowling: Zaheer 10-0-65-1 (w-6), Nehra 10-0-72-3, Agarkar 9-0-58-3 (w-1), Harbhajan 9-0-39-0, Mongia 7-0-40-0, Tendulkar 5-0-24-0.

V. Sehwag c Afridi

b Rana

(26b, 3x4)
S. Tendulkar b Iftikhar9
M.S. Dhoni c Afridi

b Arshad

(38b, 2x4)
R. Dravid (run out)19
(29b, 3x4)
Yuvraj (run out)13
(17b, 2x4)
Mohd. Kaif lbw

b Razzaq

D. Mongia c Younis

b Arshad

A. Agarkar c Youhana

b Afridi

(26b, 2x4)
Harbhajan (not out)20
(43b, 1x4)
Zaheer c Younis

b Arshad

(7b, 1x6)
A. Nehra c (sub) Hafeez b Afridi1
Extras (lb-1, b-5,

w-1, nb-3)

— —
Total (in 37 overs)144
— —

Fall of wickets: 1-31 (Sehwag), 2-36 (Tendulkar), 3-64 (Dravid), 4-84 (Yuvraj), 5-93 (Dhoni), 6-94 (Kaif), 7-94 (Mongia), 8-129 (Agarkar), 9-139 (Zaheer).

Pakistan bowling: Rana 6-0-28-1 (nb-2), Iftikhar 7-0-32-1, Razzaq 9-1-33-1 (nb-1, w-1), Arshad 10-1-33-3, Afridi 4-0-10-2, Malik 1-0-2-0.

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