Resilient India avert whitewash

Dhonis men score a nervy 10-run win at Kotla but Pakistan win series 2-1

Resilient India avert whitewash

Finally, India etched a silver-lining amidst darkness. Having lost the three-match series before Sunday’s contest, the hosts salvaged some pride, registering a 10-run victory over Pakistan that was made possible by sensational efforts by their bowlers and fielders.

Pacers Bhuvneshwar Kumar (2-31) and debutant Shami Ahmed (1-21), who replaced Ashok Dinda in the eleven, bowled incisive spells in severe cold conditions to restrict Pakistan to 157 with seven balls to spare.

Their performance came after Indian batsmen once again lived up to their fast declining reputations while folding up for 167 in 43.4 overs. Off-spinner Saeed Ajmal conjured his career best figures of 5-24 to wreck India. The home side had replaced a struggling Virender Sehwag with Ajinkya Rahane, but it seemed nothing could shake the batsmen from their inertia. Even vociferous cheering from a jam packed stadium did little to spur them.

The only hope for the Indians was the tricky conditions under lights with temperatures plummeting sharply and assisting sharp movement. Bhuvneshwar, who is fast proving his ability as a swing bowler, continued to impress when he dismissed Kamran Akmal in the second over, moving the ball in to trap him leg before. He soon returned to hit the middle stump of Younis Khan with another inswinger, and Pakistan had suddenly slumped to 14/2. However, it was the dismissal of man of the series Nasir Jamshed that pegged them back. The youngster showed intent in testing conditions, and held Indians at bay during his 47-run partnership with skipper Misbah-ul-Haq. But offie R Ashwin got both of them to push Pakistan into a spot.

India were back and Ishant Sharma (3-36), tight and nagging, did further damage with his three-wicket burst that included the wickets of Shoaib Malik and Mohammad Hafeez. With the Indian fielders too tightening the act, run-making became a tough job for Pakistani batsmen.

However, it was young Shami’s effort was the high point of Indian bowling, dishing out an economical spell. He crowned it with the wicket of Ajmal, making it a memorable debut for him. Hafeez, who was hit on the hand by a MS Dhoni shot, came at number seven, and his assault on Ishant in the 49th over raised the visions of a Pak comeback, but he soon spooned a catch to Yuvraj Singh at mid-wicket off Ishant, signalling the end of Pakistan innings and a victory for India.

It was a complete turnaround for Indians who enacted a familiar story while batting. Mohammad Irfan and Junaid Khan bowled brilliant opening spells, extracting movement and bounce, before Ajmal ran through the middle and late order. It was a good opportunity for Rahane but the youngster, who has impressed many with his stylish batting, misread Irfan’s outgoing delivery and was caught behind while attempting to drive.

Gautam Gambhir, who has been under immense struggle in the last few months, looked ill at ease against the bounce generated by the two speedsters, and perished as expected. He poked at a short and wide delivery of Irfan and Umar Akmal happily accepted the gift at point.

India were soon 63-4 and it was once again left to Dhoni to clear the mess. He did it to some extent in the company of Suresh Raina. The Dhoni-Raina duo batted with assurance as India showed signs of fightback. There was even some aggression, and offie Hafeez felt the heat and got hammered for three sixes -- one by Raina and two by Dhoni. However, Ajmal’s return changed the whole scenario. He started the destruction job by trapping Raina and Ashwin leg-before in successive balls, and the tail didn’t stand a chance against the canny Faisalabad befuddler.

Not even the players wouldn’t have fancied a win at stage, and their desperation reflected in their animated celebrations. Perhaps, it’s just a beginning.

Score board

INDIA
Gambhi c U Akmal b Irfan    15
(27b, 1x4)
Rahane c K Akmal b Irfan    4
(11b, 1x4)
Kohli c Younis b Junaid    7
(17b, 1x4)
Yuvraj b Hafeez    23
(23b, 4x4)
Raina lbw Ajmal    31
(60b, 2x4, 1x6)
Dhoni c U Akmal b Gul    36
(55b, 1x4, 3x6)
Ashwin lbw Ajmal    0
(1b)
Jadeja c U Akmal b Ajmal    27
(39b, 2x6)
Bhuvneshwar lbw Ajmal    2
(10b)
I Sharma c&b Ajmal    5
(15b, 1x4)
Ahmed (not out)    0
(5b)
Extras (LB-4, W-7, NB-1, Pen-5)    17     Total (all out; 43.4 overs)    167
Fall of wickets: 1-19 (Rahane), 2-29 (Gambhir), 3-37 (Kohli), 4-63 (Yuvraj), 5-111 (Raina), 6-111 (Ashwin), 7-131 (Dhoni), 8-141 (Bhuvneshwar), 9-160 (Ishant).
Bowling: Irfan 7-1-28-2, Junaid 9-1-17-1 (w-2), Gul 8-1-45-1 (nb-1, w-2), Hafeez 10-0-44-1 (w-2), Ajmal 9.4-1-24-5 (1w).
Power Play 1: 1-10: 38/3, Power Play 2: 35-39: 22/2.


PAKISTAN
Jamshed lbw Ashwin    34
(64b, 5x4)
K Akmal lbw Bhuvneshwar    0
(3b)
Younis b Bhuvneshwar    6
(15b, 1x4)
Misbah c Rahane b Ashwin    39
(82b, 4x4)
U Akmal st Dhoni b Jadeja    25
(50b, 3x4)
Malik lbw Ishant    5
(13b, 1x4)
Hafeez c Yuvraj b Ishant    21
(31b, 2x4)
Gul c Jadeja b Sharma    11
(28b, 2x4)
Ajmal c Dhoni b Ahmed    1
(4b)
Junaid (run out)    0
(1b)
Irfan (not out)    0
(3b)
Extras (LB-1, W-13, NB-1)    15
Total (all out; 48.5 overs)    157
Fall of wickets: 1-3 (Kamran), 2-14 (Younis), 3-61 (Nasir), 4-113 (Misbah), 5-119 (Shoaib), 6-125 (Umar), 7-144 (Umar), 8-145 (Saeed), 9-145 (Junaid).
Bowling: Bhuvneshwar 10-2-31-2 (w-3), Ahmed 9-4-23-1, Ishant 9.5-0-36-3 (nb-1, w-3), Ashwin 10-1-47-2 (w7), Jadeja 10-2-19-1.
Power Play 1: 1-10: 22/2, Power Play 2: 36-40: 12/2. 

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