Insipid batting ensured yet another defeat for India against Pakistan at the Eden Gardens here on Thursday.
Chasing a tough, but achievable, target of 251, the Indian batting failed to measure up to the expectations of the capacity crowd to lose by 85 runs in the second One-Day International, thus surrendering the three-match series. India was dismissed for 165 with two overs to spare.
Except for a 42-run opening-wicket partnership and a late charge by skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni with an unbeaten 54, the famed Indian batting had nothing to offer against an attack that was disciplined and effective. While the Indian pacers were found wanting in the early part of the day, the Pakistani pace battery of Mohammad Irfan, Junaid Khan and Umar Gul showed how to move the ball. The spinners teased, tormented and finally embarrassed the Indian batsmen.
Pakistan’s opening batsman Nasir Jamshed was adjudged the Man-of-the-Match for his superb 106.
The two teams met for the fourth time in this format at this venue and Pakistan has won every time. This victory ought to taste sweet to the visitors, for it was achieved through proper planning and hard work. The Indian batting too made Pakistan’s task easier.
Gautam Gambhir dragged a harmless ball that was going outside the off-stump onto his stumps and Virat Kohli managed to tickle one going down the leg-side to be taken behind brilliantly by Kamran Akmal.
Umar Gul brought one back sharply and Virender Sehwag’s static figure was in front of the wicket.
Yuvraj Singh tried to swat a short-pitched one from Gul and managed to bottom-edge it to the ’keeper. Suresh Raina was drawn full stretch forward by Mohammad Hafeez and was stumped.
The top order of the famed Indian batting line-up was back in the pavilion before the total could cross 100. Dhoni stood amongst his team’s ruins with a fighting half-century.
The crowd had hoped for a blitzkrieg from Ravindra Jadeja and his captain, in IPL style. When nothing materialised, the gathering began to melt away not willing to watch an Indian defeat.
Earlier, overnight rain and overcast sky compelled Dhoni to ask Pakistan to bat first hoping for some lateral movement in the air and off the pitch.
The new ball bowlers, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Ashoke Dinda, found the pitch not responding and looked ordinary as the Pakistani openers Jamshed and Mohammad Hafeez made the most of the conditions to prosper.
The two began to flourish after a cautious start during which a couple of sharp chances were not taken by the Indians.
They brought up the team’s 100 in 17 overs. After Hafeez reached his 15th half-century in this format, came Jamshed’s 50 off 55 balls with nine delectable fours.
Hafeez, who looked more adventurous, was the first to leave at his personal score of 76 that came off 74 balls with 10 boundaries.
The 141-run partnership of 143 balls for the opening wicket was the best at this venue for Pakistan. This was the fifth century partnership for the duo in nine ODIs.
Azhar Ali came in and left quickly before Younis Khan joined a free-stroking Jamshed in the middle.
The 23-year-old left-hander brought up the third century of his career — all against India — with a lofted off-drive off Ashwin for four. He fell to Jadeja trying to step out and drive. The ball first ricocheted off Dhoni’s gloves but an alert Indian captain managed to push the ball onto the stumps.
Jamshed’s 106 off 124 balls with a dozen hits to the fence and two over it, was his second three-figure knock of the series and fourth overall.
Jamshed has scored two hundreds and remained unbeaten on two occasions in four innings against India.
Pakistan’s middle-order caved in as left-arm spinner Jadeja cleverly mixed his pace to fox three Pakistani batsmen.
After Jadeja’s success with the ball, Ishant Sharma got into the act to lower the colours of the tail with a haul of three for 34 to end the innings at 250 in 48.3 overs.
Pakistan went into the game with an unchanged eleven while India made one change by including Jadeja in place of the out-of-form Rohit Sharma.