Match report: Ind vs Pak – 3rd ODI
Defending 167 runs, India pulled off an unbelievable 10-run win against Pakistan at the Feroz Shah Kotla to finish the three-match series 1-2. After their batting line-up folded in 43.4 overs, the MS Dhoni-led team held their nerve to cap off a thrilling win.
Although the Pakistan bowlers set up the match in the visitors’ favour, their batsmen crumbled under pressure as the Indian bowlers stifled the scoring rate and picked up wickets at crucial junctures to take India across the line.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar got the ball rolling with the wicket of Kamran Akmal, opening the Pakistan innings in place of Hafeez (who had hurt his left hand while bowling) for a duck and followed up with the wicket of Younis Khan to leave the visitors on 14 for two.
The young pacer along with debutant Shami Ahmed continued to hit the deck hard, but with the in-form Nasir Jamshed and Misbah-ul-Haq at the crease, Pakistan were in an advantageous position. While Ishant Sharma replaced Ahmed who had impressed with a five-over first spell conceding only 12 runs, Dhoni persisted with Bhuvneshwar Kumar at the other end in search of a breakthrough. Bowling at his home ground, Sharma continued where Ahmed had left off and kept the batsmen on a tight leash and complemented Kumar who bowled a tight ten overs at a stretch bagging a wicket.
However, India was given their next wicket when Ravichandran Ashwin was introduced into the attack in the 21st over. He removed Jamshed to give India a vital breakthrough. Umar Akmal then joined the Pakistan captain in taking the team forward at an unhurried pace.
The Indian bowlers continued to put up a fight with an impressive performance under pressure and with three wickets in quick succession. With 55 runs required, Misbah was caught by Ajinkya Rahane at leg slip off Ashwin. And an over later, Sharma returned to claim Shoaib Malik in the powerplay, while Ravindra Jadeja followed up with the wicket of Umar Akmal. Sensing a chance, the Indians stepped up the pressure. Sharma once again returned to give India a breakthrough. With the run-rate creeping up, Umar Gul to holed out to Jadeja at long-on. With 23 required off 18 balls, Shami Ahmed claimed the eighth wicket, while Suresh Raina ran out the new batsman Junaid Khan.
With Pakistan needing 23 off 12 balls with a wicket in hand, Sharma bowling the penultimate claimed Hafeez to take India to victory, after being given the charge by the batsman earlier in the over. Hafeez who was attempting to take the team across the line with No.11 bat Irfan Mohammad at the other end went after Sharma but ended up caught by Yuvraj Singh at mid-wicket.
Earlier, Irfan struck to claim the Indian openers, while Junaid Khan followed up with the wicket of Virat Kohli in the first powerplay. And 26 runs after Kohli departed, Yuvraj Singh was castled by Hafeez. The all-rounder looked in good nick and after helping claim 18 runs off Umar Gul in the previous over he walked back to the pavillion.
With India struggling on 63 for four, MS Dhoni looked to rebuild the innings with Raina and launched a counterattack, after biding his time at the crease. He lofted Hafeez for successive sixes but the partnership was halted for 48 by Ajmal. The Pakistan off-spinner struck twin blows by trapping Raina and Ashwin leg-before to send India reeling on the back foot.
However, unruffled, Dhoni continued to attack and smashed Hafeez into the stands over mid-wicket for a six as he looked to salvage the innings with Ravindra Jadeja. But it wasn’t long before the he departed; attempting to cut Umar Gul and holing out at point. With Dhoni’s stay in the middle cut short for 36, India’s hopes of setting a decent target for the opposition too came to an end.
It was then left to the last recognized batsman, Jadeja to take India through their full quota of overs with the tailenders. But Saeed Ajmal returned to run through the tail and finish with a fiver. After Bhuvneshwar Kumar was caught leg-before, Ishant Sharma hit the ball back to the off-spinner, while Jadeja who had decided to take the aerial route to garner as many runs as possible was the last to get out, caught at long-on.
Man-of-the-Match: MS Dhoni for leading the team to a nail-biting victory and top-scoring for India with 36 runs
Man-of-the-Series: Nasir Jamshed for two successive centuries in the series
Brief scorers: India 167 all out in 43.4 overs (MS Dhoni 36, S Ajmal 5/24, I Mohammad 2/28) beat Pakistan 157 all out in 48.5 overs (Misbah-ul-Haq 39, I Sharma 3/36, B Kumar 2/31, R Aswin 2.47) by 10 runs