India clinch Pak ODI series
Two years after Virender Sehwag became the first Indian to score a triple hundred in Tests at this ground, Rahul Dravid's men clinched the one-day series with a clinical display at Multan Cricket Stadium in Pakistan on Thursday.india Updated: Feb 18, 2006 19:44 IST
It seems Indians could do no wrong at Multan.
Two years after Virender Sehwag became the first Indian to score a triple hundred in Tests at this ground, Rahul Dravid's men clinched the one-day series with a clinical display on Thursday.
Sehwag is recovering from the shoulder injury at Najafgarh. But the wounds that India inflicted on Inzamam-ul Haq's boys in the City of Saints would take some time to heal.
After the bowlers restricted the Pakistani batsmen to a modest 161, India reached home with 17.3 overs in hand.
With this five-wicket win, India now lead 3-1 in the 5-match series and the fifth and final match at Karachi, where India lost the decisive third Test, would be a mere formality.
On a wicket which had no devils to frighten the batsmen, RP Singh (4/40) showed his worth.
Still the battle was far from over. Chasing the small target, India got a big jolt in the very second over when Sachin Tendulkar, whose imperious 95 built the Indian platform at Lahore, played away from the body off Mohammad Sami and Kamran Akmal took the catch.
Dravid (59 in 72 balls, 9 fours), coming in at the fall of Tendulkar, played a knock a captain should. He was at ease while coping with the swing and whenever he was given the width, he cut, pulled, glanced and drove.
In Yuvraj Singh (37 in 56 balls, 6 fours), Dravid had a partner who played again the kind of innings which has made him the most dependable middle order batsman in the recent times.
Their fine 86-run partnership was broken when Rana Naved-ul Hasan finally kissed the outside edge of Yuvraj.
Mohammad Kaif was dismissed cheaply again and when Dravid became Sami's third victim, there might have been some nervous moments in the dressing room.
But Suresh Raina (35 in 34 balls, 6 fours) hardly gave the strike to Mahendra Singh Dhoni (2 not out) and finished the match with an emphatic pull to the mid wicket boundary off the super sub Imran Farhat.
Pakistan's batsmen never looked comfortable against the moving ball in this do-or-die encounter. And eventually they were dismissed for 161 in 41.5 overs after Dravid won the toss and put them in.
Irfan Pathan (3/26) and Sreesanth gave India a fine start by picking early wickets, but RP was the man on Thursday.
He swung the ball back to the right-handers and even surprised the in form Shoaib Malik with his ability to generate bounce from the pitch.
All the pacers bowled well, but it was Sachin Tendulkar who got the biggest wicket of the day.
After RP Singh dismissed super sub Farhat and allrounder Abdul Razzaq in the 34th over of the innings, Sachin had his moment of delight.
The Indian master had big Inzamam-ul Haq (49, 63 balls, 7 fours) plumb in front and with that he ended any hopes that Pakistan had of posting a competitive total.
Inzamam was trying his best to rebuild the innings, but wickets kept on falling at the other end. At Lahore also, Inzamam was out to Sachin.
After the early setbacks, skipper Inzamam brought stability to the innings with an assured display of batsmanship.
Yousuf survived a confident leg before shout off RP Singh to play two of the most beautiful on drives you could ever see.
Once Yousuf (25) failed to convert his start to a big score and was caught behind off Ajit Agarkar, Pakistan had no option but to use their super sub Farhat (14).
He looked good in the middle, but he mistimed a pull shot and Raina took his second catch of the day.
RP was refreshing in the morning. Though he was denied a hattrick by Yousuf, but the UP left-arm pacer made Pakistan suffer with his telling blows in successive balls.
In form, Malik was surprised by a bouncer and his top edge was brilliantly taken by Irfan Pathan at square leg. Younis Khan was plumb in front and the Indian were on a roll at Multan.
Pakistan were 31 for four in the 14th over after Sreesanth sent back Salman Butt in the previous over. Three catches were dropped off him at Lahore, but on Thursday, Dravid, at first slip, took a catch, which could not have been better.
Earlier, Butt and Akmal came to open for Pakistan. Unlike Karachi, Rawalpindi and Lahore, Pathan's first over went wicket less, but he did bowl very well, moving the ball both ways. Butt looked vulnerable, but more importantly he survived. Result, a maiden. Sreesanth too bowled a maiden in the next over.
Pathan and Sreeshanth kept it tight. Pakistan never looked comfortable and eventually, Akmal, in the seventh over, played a cut to Suresh Raina at point.
Pakistan lost their first wicket at the score of 15. And that was the beginning of the end of the Pakistan innings.
India: Gautam Gambhir, Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid (captain), Yuvraj Singh, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Mohammad Kaif, Suresh Raina, Irfan Pathan, Ajit Agarkar, S Sreesanth, RP Singh.
Super Sub: Zaheer Khan.
Pakistan: Salman Butt, Kamran Akmal, Shoaib Malik, Mohammad Yousuf, Inzamam-ul Haq, Younis Khan, Abdul Razzaq, Rana Naved-ul Hasan, Mohammad Asif, Yasir Arafat, Mohammad Sami.
Super Sub: Imran Farhat.
Umpires: Steve Bucknor (West Indies), Asad Rauf (Pakistan). Third Umpire: Jameer Haidar. Match Referee: Chris Broad (England).
First Published: Feb 18, 2006 19:44 IST