The series lived up to expectation as the age-old rivals compiled together a scintillating display of cricket. The honours were shared after the completion of the first four ODIs and both teams had everything to play for in the final ODI in Lahore.
India, eventually, came out trumps to record their maiden series triumph in Pakistan, beating them by a margin of 40 runs. We take a look at the five best moments of the game.
#7 Pakistan get rid of Viru and the Master Blaster
India had a rollicking start through some blistering strokes by Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar. The duo showed promise in their innings and smashed 11 fours, peppering the boundaries across the entire circumference of the ground.
However, the Pakistan pacers pulled things back when Shabbir Ahmed dismissed Sehwag, who unsuccessfully attempted to play a back-foot punch only to feather the ball into Moin Khan’s gloves.
Few overs later, Mohammad Sami’s probing line and length paid dividends as Sachin produced an outside edge to give Pakistan their second wicket.
#6 Laxman – India’s nucleus in the line-up
V.V.S Laxman came in at the fall of the first wicket and went on until the 46th over of the innings – a testament to the stupendous fitness standards he set for himself. He had his fair share of luck during the knock as he was spilled by Taufeeq Umar at deep mid-wicket after he reached his half-century.
With the help of 11 fours, he raced to his maiden ODI ton against Pakistan in a mere 98 balls. He hardly took the aerial route after he was dropped, and displayed immense composure to take India to a reasonable total.
#5 Eventful last over
The last over by Shoaib Akhtar to Laxmipathy Balaji had everything to keep the audience on the edge of their seats. Akhtar isn’t a dibbly-dobbly bowler by any stretch of the imagination and spanking his deliveries isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.
However, Balaji, despite being a tail-ender, showed that it’s pretty easy to hit 150 kmph thunderbolts for maximums. Akhtar speared in a pacey full-length delivery, which was muscled over long-on over a leaping Yousuf Youhana (now Mohammad Yousuf).
The next delivery saw Balaji’s bat being demolished into two pieces by the Rawalpindi Express’ full toss on middle and leg.
At the end of 50 overs, India managed to reach 293 for the loss of seven wickets.
#4 Pakistan set back by Irfan Pathan
The start was a forgettable one for Pakistan as they lost wickets in heaps to hand India the advantage from the word go. Balaji uprooted Yasir Hameed’s off-stump, but it was Irfan Pathan who kept adding to the wickets column.
With the score yet to enter double figures, Pathan trapped Younis Khan after which Taufeeq Umar was castled around his legs to leave Pakistan reeling at 25/3 in the sixth over. Younis Khan started to look ominous only to perish to the left-arm pacer for 12 after scorching a couple of boundaries.
#3 Tendulkar latches on to a catch to pin down Inzi
Inzamam-ul-Haq is known for his collected approach. The big man threatened to snatch the early momentum from India and rescue Pakistan as he was well on his way with 38 runs from 50 deliveries.
Inzi did not like the spinners settling into a rhythm and quite characteristically took on Murali Kartik to go downtown over long on. But to his dismay, he had one of India’s safest outfielders – Sachin Tendulkar – to contend with.
The shot didn’t come off the middle and fell safely into the palms of the Master Blaster, who pulled off the catch inches away from the boundary hoardings.
#2 Shoaib Malik and Moin Khan steady the ship
With Pakistan at 96/6 in the 24th over, they were well and truly looking down the barrel at a series defeat. However, they weren’t quite done yet as Moin Khan and Shoaib Malik battled hard to bring Pakistan back into the contest with a stand of 99 at almost a run-a-ball.
Blending caution with aggression, they kept the scoreboard ticking as the noise at the Gaddafi Stadium went a few decibels up. The partnership was eventually halted when Malik cross-batted a lofted shot off Virender Sehwag’s bowling straight to deep mid-wicket.
#1 Too little too late for Pakistan
Malik’s dismissal didn’t affect Moin Khan and he unrelentingly went on his way to instil life in the match. Along with Mohammad Sami, he carved a 53-run stand to bring Pakistan within touching distance of victory.
However, the final three wickets fell for five runs and India were able to restrict the Men in Green to 253, and as a result, registered their maiden ODI series triumph in Pakistan.