That Pakistan perform better under pressure was underlined in Dhaka on Saturday. Salman Butt and Younis Khan destroyed a lacklustre Indian attack.
All the good work by India in the league matches was undone in the final as they crashed to an embarrassing 25-run defeat and conceded the Kitply Cup tri-series title to Pakistan at the Sher-e-Bangla stadium.
Pakistan bowled India out for 290, while defending an imposing 315 for three after Shoaib Malik won the toss. Butt (129 retired not out, 136b, 12x4, 3x6) and Younis (108, 99b, 8x4, 3x6) added 205 for the second wicket in just 195 balls, demoralising the Indians.
A sound start was what India needed in pursuing at 6.32 an over. They needed to switch to T20 mode. Unfortunately, Virender Sehwag fell in the second over to a mis-hit off Sohail Tanvir and there were no big partnerships to set up the chase.
Gautam Gambhir and Rohit Sharma raised hopes of a recovery. Rohit was on song while Gambhir batted as he has of late. The duo ran hard, found the gaps and threatened to send to oblivion the double hundred stand Younis and Butt raised earlier.
Poor shot selection cost India dear, starting from Rohit and Gambhir right through to the end. The responsibility was immense on the most experienced in the Indian team, Yuvraj Singh, and Suresh Raina.
India were still in the hunt at the half-way stage, when they had a 48-run advantage — 153 for four as against Pakistan's 105 for one. But they did not have enough wickets in hand.
Yuvraj helped himself to 56 (59b, 5x4, 1x6) and the last rays of hope rested on Dhoni and Irfan, which were dashed as Pakistan bowled tightly in the end.
It might seem to be a close finish but India's chances faded with Yuvraj's dismissal in the 32nd over. There was precious little that Dhoni could do with the tail, the captain consuming too many deliveries before stepping on the pedal in the end.
Earlier, Younis, out for ducks in the two league matches, ensured that it was not a dubious three-in-a-row by registering his fourth ODI ton.
Praveen Kumar and Ishant Sharma gave India a good start. In the first 20 overs, Pakistan were sitting quietly on 75 for one. But the introduction of slow bowlers halfway through the third Powerplay (18th over) gave Butt and Younis the free hand. There were far too many vacant spots in the spread outfield that they looks to penetrate.
Butt ought to have gone for 19 when he was dropped by Rohit at point off Praveen. The 23-year-old left-hander took the cue from Younis, posted his seventh hundred, and fifth against India (the other two coming against Bangladesh).
The tiring conditions got the better of him when, with four overs remaining in the innings, he retired hurt due to cramps.
Dhoni did not have alternate plans when things went off track. He made too many bowling changes, none of which worked. Such was pitch that the bowlers had little assistance from it.
The playing condition was amended with the customary change of ball coming into effect from the 31st over to facilitate better sighting.
This, though, did not have any positive effect on the Indians.