NEW DELHI, Jan 6 (PTI): A spirited India clinched a sensational 10-run victory in a low-scoring thriller to avoid a series whitewash and restore some pride in the third and final cricket one-dayer against arch-rivals Pakistan here today.
The Indians were first bundled out for a paltry 167 in 43.4 overs but relied on a brilliant bowling display under pressure to stop the visitors at 157 in a nerve-wrecking day-night contest, held in extremely chilly and windy conditions.
Fortunes fluctuated from one team to the other till the very end before the hosts finally brought some cheer for their fans with the dramatic victory, which reduced their margin of defeat to 1-2 in the three-match series.
It was another poor batting display by the Indians who never really got going as the Pakistani pacers Mohammad Irfan and Junaid Khan caused early damages before Saeed Ajmal joined the party with a career-best effort of five for 24. But the host bowlers made amends in the end to fashion the win.
The Pakistanis, chasing the small target, were in a spot of bother as pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar rocked the innings with the early dismissals of Kamran Akmal and Younis Khan, but the visitors recovered through a gritty partnership between captain Misbah-ul Haq (39) and Nasir Jamshed (34), who were the top contributors for Pakistan.
However, the Pakistan innings collapsed again, giving the hosts an opportunity to come back into the game. A nearly fully-packed holiday crowd, defying the chilly winds which blew right through the day, turned up at the Feroze Shah Kotla and were lucky enough to see a change in India’s sliding fortunes.
Captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni (36), Suresh Raina (31) and Ravindra Jadeja (27) got the starts but could not translate those into big knocks, though the heavy wintry conditions made batting a little difficult.
Ishant Sharma, after making a hash of a run out attempt, dismissed Mohammad Hafeez to bring about India’s triumph, triggering scenes of wild celebrations in the stands.
The win also meant that India avoided a series whitewash on home soil which would have been their first in 29 years.
The Pakistani innings began on a disastrous note as opener Kamran (0) and the experienced Younis (6) fell cheaply with paceman Bhuvneshwar claiming both the wickets to reduce the visitors to 14 for two by the seventh over.
While Akmal was trapped leg before with an incoming delivery, Younis was bowled by another inswinger as he attempted a loose drive.
But Jamshed, who has been in tremendous form with two back-to-back century, and captain Misbah played cautiously to steady the innings though both of them survived some anxious moments.
With the conditions assisting the quick bowlers, Dhoni chose to use Bhuvneshwar for ten unchanged overs and the young Uttar Pradesh seamer bowled his heart out, but could not add to his tally of two wickets.
i n d i a
Gambhir c U Akmal b Irfan 15
Rahane c K Akmal b Irfan 4
Kohli c Younis b Junaid 7
Yuvraj b Hafeez 23
Raina lbw b Ajmal 31
Dhoni c U Akmal b Gul 36
Ashwin lbw b Ajmal 0
Jadeja c U Akmal b Ajmal 27
Kumar lbw b Ajmal 2
Ishant c&b Ajmal 5
Shami not out 0
Extras: (LB-4, W-7, NB-1, Pen-5) 17
Total: (all out; 43.4 overs) 167
Fall of wickets: 1-19, 2-29, 3-37, 4-63, 5-111, 6-111, 7-131, 8-141, 9-160, 10-167.
Bowling: Mohammad Irfan 7-1-28-2, Junaid Khan 9-1-17-1, Umar Gul 8-1-45-1, Mohammad Hafeez 10-0-44-1, Saeed Ajmal 9.4-1-24-5.
p a k i s t a n
Jamshed lbw b Ashwin 34
K Akmal lbw b Kumar 0
Younis b Kumar 6
Misbah c Rahane b Ashwin 39
U Akmal st Dhoni b Jadeja 25
Malik lbw b Ishant 5
Hafeez c Yuvraj b Ishant 21
Umar Gul c Jadeja b Ishant 11
Ajmal c Dhoni b Ahmed 1
Junaid run out 0
Irfan not out 0
Extras: (LB-1 W-13 NB-1) 15
Total: (all out in 48.5 overs) 157
Fall of wickets: 1-3, 2-14, 3-61, 4-113, 5-119, 6-125, 7-144, 8-145, 9-145, 10-157.
Bowling: B Kumar 10-2-31-2, Shami Ahmed 9-4-23-1, Ishant Sharma 9.5-0-36-3, R Ashwin 10-1-47-2, R Jadeja 10-2-19-1.