Scorecard | Live Chat: Ind vs Pak | All-rounder needed
KOLKATA: Nasir Jamshed's liking for Indian bowling rivals that of another left-handed opener from his country - Saeed Anwar's. Jamshed's third successive ODI hundred against his preferred opposition and India's irremediable vulnerability to quality bowling translated into a coveted ODI series win for Pakistan on Thursday. At the iconic Eden Gardens, the neighbours overwhelmed their arch rivals by 85 runs in the second fixture, keeping their spotless venue record intact and sealing a 2-0 triumph in the three-match competition.
Set a target of 251, India were never able to get going and not one decent partnership - aside from the scratchy 42-run opening stand - featured in the chase. The home team had come back strongly to restrict Pakistan after the visiting openers - Jamshed and Mohammad Hafeez (76) - rustled up a big partnership.
But India faltered in the pursuit, as a bowling attack of unimpeachable skill did not allow any batsman to get comfortable. The chase was terminated on 165 in 48 overs as four of Pakistan's six bowlers went for less than four runs per over. Left-arm paceman Junaid Khan provided the early breakthroughs, off-spinner Hafeez was miserly, Umar Gul got two vital wickets and Saeed Ajmal - held back until the 25th over - took out three in one over to scupper a chase that was not going anywhere anyway. Kamran Akmal, often criticised for being less than able behind the wicket, claimed four victims - including a stunning leg-side catch to get rid of Virat Kohli. Pakistan have now beaten India in all the four ODIs that the teams have contested at the Eden Gardens.
Weird are the ways of Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir. After struggling to get going and allowing the bulk of scoring to be done by careless, overthrown boundaries, both openers were put out of their misery within five overs of each other. Junaid bowled superbly, but his wickets came off poor deliveries. Gambhir (11) chopped a wide on to his stumps on the last ball of the mandatory Poweplay, while Kohli (6) chased one down the leg-side for Akmal to complete a fantastic diving catch. Sehwag (31) was trapped in front by Gul as India fell to 59/3 within 15 overs. Yuvraj Singh (9) looked out of sorts against the fast bowlers and was put out of his 19-ball agony when he toe-ended an attempted pull off a Gul wide ball to Akmal.
Spinners take over
The run rate was inching threateningly upwards when spin took over in the form of Hafeez. The off-spinner got the well-set Suresh Raina (18) stumped after it was adjudicated that the southpaw had failed to ground his foot. Shoaib Malik joined the party, R. Ashwin charging madly down for another stumping - this time a regulation one. Ajmal had been held back until the 25th over, and he returned to destroy India with three wickets in the 40th. Ravindra Jadeja offered an overhead catch to mid-on, Bhuvaneshwar Kumar was caught in front for a duck, and Dinda too departed leg-before first ball - though the ball looked like it was going way down the leg side. Amid the ruins, Dhoni batted resolutely for an unbeaten, although pointless, 54, top-scoring for the team for the second consecutive match.
Pakistan looked good for a huge total when a cascade of wickets arrested their progress to at least 50 short of what they would have expeted. The visitors lost ten wickets for 109 runs in 24.4 overs following a rollicking opening stand of 141 between Jamshed and Hafeez. They finally settled for exactly 250, not lasting their entire quota after Ravindra Jadeja and Ishant Sharma pegged them back with timely strikes. Jamshed followed up his dogged hundred at Chennai in the last match with 106 here. Hafeez, who was bowled for a golden duck in the opening game, batted brilliantly and the two raced off the blocks as India’s seamers searched desperately for a hint of swing. But there was none and Dhoni's decision to field first in overcast conditions appeared to have backfired. The 50 and 100 run partnerships both came at a run a ball, and only R. Ashwin was able to impose any control on the runaway batsmen.
Jadeja pulls it back
After a pasting for their part-timers at Chennai, India had opted to play Jadeja as a bowling all-rounder. The move paid off, but the breakthrough had as much to do with Hafeez’s indiscretion as anything that Jadeja could have hoped to bowl. Hafeez was timing the ball beautifully, but was bowled by Jadeja going for a wild sweep. The left-arm spinner had twice come close to dismissing Hafeez earlier and he wasn’t finished with the wickets. As Pakistan struggled to keep up the momentum on pitch that now looked to harbor uneven bounce, the mop-top returned to remove Jamshed and Kamran. India were also gifted a dismissal when Azhar Ali (2) sought to stole a single after an upturned leg-before appeal, and was run out by an alert Dhoni.
Ishant chips in
Runs were suddenly harder to come by as Ishant Sharma kept a tight line at the other end. The Indian captain’s bizarre ploy to hand Suresh Raina the odd over also paid off when Younis Khan (10) was given out lbw - although he had clearly inside-ended the ball on to the pad. Pakistan were 177/3 at that stage and a big score was still within reach. Misbah-ul-Haq’s wicket – leg-before to R. Ashwin for 2– changed all that. Jamshed managed to clout Dinda for six. Another biff against Ashwin gave him his third successive ODI century versus India. Shoaib Malik (24) looked good but sliced Ishant to cover in the 47th over. Jamshed was stumped on second attempt by Dhoni off Jadeja when he returned to bowl the 42nd over and and in the same over Kamran was caught at slip. Ishant then forced deliveries through Umar Gul and Mohammad Irfan to terminate the innings in 48.3 overs. India lasted for three deliveries - and 85 runs - less.