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Pakistan thrash India
Ashish Magotra |
April 17, 2005 13:40 IST
Last Updated: April 17, 2005 18:54 IST
A superb performance by the Pakistan middle-order was buffered up by a bumbling Indian batting line-up as the visitors racked up a 159-run victory in the sixth and final One-Day International at the Ferozshah Kotla in Delhi on Sunday.
Pakistan triumphed in the six-match series by winning four matches on the trot after losing the first two by convincing margins.
Batting first, Pakistan put up a commanding 303 for the loss of eight wickets at the end of their allotted 50 overs
Shoaib Malik, Yousuf Youhana and Inzamam-ul Haq all scored half-centuries to supplement Shahid Afridi's whirlwind 44 off 23 balls at the start of the innings.
In reply, India were bundled out for 144, in just 37 overs.
Inzamam won the toss and elected to bat on a pitch where he thought a score of 260 would be very competitive.
Pakistan stuck to the same eleven that won them the fifth ODI at Kanpur, but India made two changes, with Agarkar coming in for Laxmipathy Balaji while Nehra replaced Anil Kumble,
Zaheer started off well, while Nehra, who claimed Afridi twice in succession before being dropped for the last game, came in feeling confident. But that emotion lasted just one ball.
Afridi slashed and missed at his first ball. That is never an indication that the right-hander is struggling. Rather, it is an indication that he is playing his natural game.
The second ball saw Nehra erring with line and pushing the ball on to Afridi's legs. The result was a four. That got the Pakistan opener started and 18 runs came off the next four balls to make it 22 off the second over of the innings.
Zaheer struck an important blow in the third over when he removed opener Salman Butt (3 off 10 balls) with a delivery that pitched on the off-stump and moved away from the left-hander, who poked at it in a very unconvincing manner. Sehwag took the resultant edge brilliantly at second slip. (28 for 1)
India got only a momentary respite as new batsman Shoaib Malik got into the act almost immediately.
Nehra fell away completely as did Zaheer. The Indian bowlers had two slips to start off the innings but they maintained a line on or around the leg-stump. The result was that of the 53 runs scored after six overs, 37 came on the leg-side.
Afridi seemed to have settled down -- if you can ever say that about him -- and actually looked like he wanted to play a long innings. That, in a way, was a good thing for India because it meant that the right-hander was not being his all out aggressive self.
It was around this time that both Nehra and Zaheer started to vary their pace intelligently. Reward came quickly as Afridi was dismissed by Nehra as he tried to run a delivery down to third man.
The ball took a faint edge and wicketkeeper Mahendra Singh Dhoni took an easy catch to end Afridi's knock on 44 off just 23 balls. 32 off those runs had come on the leg-side; 18 off those 32 had come behind the wicket. (68 for 1)
Yousuf Youhana walked in at number four. It was an odd decision by the Pakistan team management to bat Inzamam as low as five in the order. The Pakistan skipper has been in prime touch and the longer he stays at the wicket, the greater the danger for India.
Not to say that Youhana is not in sublime touch himself.
Runs continued to come at a decent rate. After 15 overs, Pakistan were 103 for 2 and well on their way to a 300-plus total.
Agarkar was introduced into the attack at the end of 13th over but the Mumbai medium-pacer, playing in his first ODI since December 2004 against Bangladesh, struggled, giving away 21 runs in his three-over spell.
Malik and Youhana played the bowling with ease, taking a lot of singles and even though the boundaries dried up, their absence was not noted.
Third umpire K Hariharan eventually sent Youhana back to the pavilion with a controversial decision.
Malik, who was on strike, was hit on the pad while trying to defend on the front-foot. The ball rolled away behind the stumps and Youhana called for a quick single. Tendulkar swooped on the ball and quickly released it one motion to hit the stumps on the full.
The third umpire was called in and even though there was sufficient doubt to rule in the batsman's favour the red light flashed and Youhana was run-out after scoring 50 off 59 balls with three boundaries and one six. The partnership for the third wicket was worth 85. (153 for 3)
Inzamam walked in and one could almost feel him fuming beneath his helmet. He did not take the decision against Youhana lightly and responded with a boundary in the 30th over, which was also the first since the 17th.
Malik (72 off 87 balls including eight boundaries) continued to bat superbly, rotating the strike to give Inzamam a lot of strike. But he was then clean bowled by a reverse swinging delivery from the first ball of an over by Agarkar, who was just reintroduced into the attack. (191 for 4)
Between the 15th and 35th over, Pakistan put on 88 runs for the loss of two wickets. The major thrust would have to come now.
Younis Khan joined Inzamam at the wicket and struggled to begin with but then found his touch to put on 91 runs with his skipper.
Nehra then struck a double blow for India, first removing Younis Khan (40 off 42) and then Razzaq off consecutive deliveries. The Pakistan vice-captain was deceived by a slower ball from Nehra and the leading edge was easily taken by the bowler.
Razzaq (0) was in next, and, with 47 overs gone, there was no time to settle. He went for a huge heave towards long-on off the first ball but found Sehwag, who dived forward to take a very good catch.
Inzamam perished in the final over of the innings after scoring 68 off 69 balls with seven boundaries but it was a debatable decision as well. There were several leg-before shouts that were turned down even though they looked out. The umpiring was not very good.
Pakistan ended up with 303 at the end of their allotted 50 overs.
For India to make a creditable reply, they needed Sehwag or Dhoni to replicate Afridi's carnage at the start of the innings. That didn't happen; instead, the 40,000 crowd were treated to a humiliating blow-out.
As the series went on, Pakistan gained in confidence against conventional wisdom. Every time they had their backs to the wall they have responded with a ferocity that often sent the Indians scurrying for cover.
Sehwag was lucky to survive off the second ball of the innings when he was caught off a no-ball from Naved but that was the only stroke of luck that India had today.
The pitch was starting to come into play. The odd ball was keeping low and from the evidence during the Indian innings the spinners would get a fair bit of help as well.
Sehwag scored a tortured 21 off 26 balls before Naved and Afridi combined to send him back to the pavilion. (31 for 1). It was not an innings one expected, because the right-hander never really got into his stride.
Four balls later, Tendulkar was gone as well. Iftikhar Anjum struck the crucial blow to send back the veteran, who inside edged the ball into the stumps as he looked to turn it away on the leg side. (36 for 2)
The openers were back in the pavilion and the expected surge at the start of the innings had not come.
Dhoni and Dravid tried to salvage the innings with a 28-run patrnership but there was only so much they could do. Dravid (19 off 29 balls) was run-out by a direct hit from Youhana. (64 for 3)
This was a Pakistan team that was playing well above its potential. This was a team that rose to the occasion whenever the situation demanded something special, and it is virtually impossible to pick out one player who was responsible for the position that the visitors were in.
The procession of Indian wickets was a regular sight for the spectators. Yuvraj (13 off 17), Dhoni (24 off 38) and Kaif (4), in that order, all followed Dravid back to the pavilion and by the 23rd over, India were already reduced to 94 for 6.
At the fall of Kaif's wicket, a few bottles found their way onto the ground as a few agitated Kotla spectators showed their disapproval of India's meek surrender.
The players were led off the field and it was some time before play resumed. The break didn't change India's luck and Dinesh Mongia departed almost immediately after the restart.
The remaining batsmen were bundled out in quick time. India were all out for a paltry 144 in 37 overs. Pakistan won by 159 runs, the biggest victory margin against India in India.
But it wasn't the result that should surprise many. In the last 50 ODI matches that India played, dating back to the World Cup final against Australia, they have had to chase a target of over 280 ten times, including today's match. And in those ten matches, India has come out on top only once.
A success rate of just 10 per cent is not good by any means and it also means that very rarely does this team come from behind to win. The importance of the toss when India plays cannot be any better stated.
The writing is on the wall -- India is disastrous at chasing. And today's performance only shows that time and again this team succumbs under pressure. When the going gets tough, this Indian team fails to get going at all.
Pakistan deserve kudos for the grit they displayed throughout the series, and their constant improvement in all departments of the game, especially the fielding, is a sign that Bob Woolmer's presence is really starting to make a difference.
The highest score by a batsman in the Indian innings was just 24 and the batsmen have a lot to answer for. For once the strength of the pack was the pack itself.
Malik was adjudged the man-of-the-match while Naved earned the man-of-the-series award for his 15-wicket haul during a series that was dominated by the batsmen.