Pakistan beat India by 31 runs, salvage some pride

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Jaipur, Nov 18 (UNI) Pakistan gave an all-round performance to overpower a depleted India by 31 runs and salvaged some pride to end the series 2-3 here tonight.

Chasing a victory target of 307, after Mahender Singh Dhoni elected to field, the Indians failed in their run chase and were all out for 275 in 49.5 overs.

With the series already in their pocket, India went in for big changes, with Sourav Ganguly, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan and R P Singh being left out of the eleven.

Uttar Pradesh all-rounder Parveen Kumar made his debuut and S Sreesanth, who hasn't played in the last four matches of this series, took the field. Rohit Sharma and Murli Kartik also got a game.

Pakistan also made four changes with Younis Khan, Shahid Afridi, Kamran Akmal and Shoiab Akhtar missing out. Yasir Hameed, Imran Nazir, Fawad Alam and debutant Sarfraz Ahmed got the chance to play.

Dhoni's decision to field first was once again prompted by the dew factors and also knowing that the Pakistanis had a problem bowling under lights at Gwalior.

But today, it was Pakistan's day as they clicked in all departments of the game and managed to erase the bad memories of Gwalior.

The visitors, who at one stage, were tottering at 77 for three, thanks to a triple blow by Sreesanth, managed to plie on 306 for 6, thus scoring above 300 runs for second time in the series.

They, in the process, scored the highest on this ground, improving on India's 303 against Sri Lanka in 2005 in which Dhoni had scored his career-best 183, which is the highest by any wicket-keeper in the ODIs so far.

India sufferred early reverse when Gautam Gambhir was trapped leg before by Sohail Tanvir. The team total was 15 then and the opener's own contribution being 15-ball 12 with the help of two fours.

And, two overs and eleven runs later, Rao Ifthikhar Anjum earned another quick breakthrough as he got rid of Robin Uthappa.

Uthappa could not make use of the life he got two balls earlier. Ifthikhar bowled just short of a length and outside the off, the batsman played it without moving his feet and the outside edge went straight to Misbah-ul-Haq at slip who just dropped a virtual sitter.

However, two balls later, there was no such luck for the Indian as the bowler bowled another short of a good length delivery and Uthappa played an identical shot once again but this time Misbah made no mistake as he held a superb catch. India were 26 fo 2 in 6.4 overs then.

Virender Sehwag joined Sachin Tendulkar and the experienced pair started belting the bowlers all over the park and in 3.2 overs they added 31 runs to the teams total.

Tendulkar was more aggressive in his approach as he hit and drove beautifully and it looked like the master blaster may just get his elusive 42nd ODI century here tonight but that was not to be. The opener hit Sohail for three stunning boundaries, past cover point, square leg and then flicked him towards backward point but then the Pakistani had the last laugh as he got Tendulkar off his last ball.

Tendulkar went for another big hit but the ball took the thick edge and in the gully Misbah made no mistake in holding it. There was a pin drop silence in the packed stadium as the master trudged back knowing well that at least this year he will not be able score another ODI century before the home crowd. He made 30 from 27 balls with the help of six fours.

Five runs and nine-ball later, Sehwag also departed.

He tried to hit out Tanvir as he flashed at an outgoing delivery only to be caught by wicket-keeper Sarfraz Ahmed and the bowler got his third prized wicket to leave the hosts tottering at 62 for 4.

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