Pakistan score 306 for 6, highest ever on this ground

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Jaipur, Nov 18 (UNI) A quick-fire 153-ball 168-run fourth wicket partnership between Mohd. Yousuf and skipper Shoaib Malik enabled Pakistan score commanding 306 for 6 against India in the fifth and final one-dayer here today.

Pakistan, who at one staged were tottering at 77 for three thanks to a triple strike by S Sreesanth, managed to score over 300 runs for the second time in the series and the highest on this ground improving on India's 303 against Sri Lanka in 2005 in which Mahendra Singh Dhoni had scored career-best 183, which is the highest by any wicket-keeper in the ODIs so far.

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 debut and Sreesanth, who hasn't played in the last four matches of this series, took the field. Rohit Sharma and Murali Kartik also got a game.

Pakistan also made four changes with Younis Khan, Shahid Afridi, Kamran Akmal and Shoaib Akhtar missing out and Yasir Hameed, Imran Nazir, Fawad Alam and debutant Sarfraz Ahmed coming in.

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.

Praveen Kumar started impressively bowling a maiden over while, on the other end, Sreesanth looked a bit erratic conceding 20 runs in his first three overs and Dhoni brought in Irfan Pathan in his place.

Praveen, who had given away only six runs in his first four overs, suddenly tried to accelerate his speed and in the process gave away 16 runs in his next two overs. Pathan was steady but not very penetrative.

Pakistan got their best opening stand in the series with Salman Butt (36) and Imran Nazir (20) putting up 65 runs.

But, it did not last long because Sreesanth was brought back into the attack in the 13th over and he struck a vital blow for India.

Butt, who was looking set for another big score, got a bit too ambitious as he swung wildly at a delivery, which he could have avoided, and Rohit Sharma took a comfortable catch at mid on. Butt's 36 came off 49 balls and was studded with six boundaries.

Sreesanth created more trouble for the visitors when in his next over he sent Yasir Hameed, playing for the first time in the series, back to pavilion. The batsman, who looked tentative, edged an outside the off stump delivery only to be caught by Dhoni who took a fine diving catch. Yasir made only one run and faced five balls and Pakistan were 70 for 2 when he was out.

But, there was no stopping Sreesanth, who seemed to be on a roll as he struck for the third time in his next over when he got rid off well settled opener Imran Nazir.

Nazir, who was also playing his first match in the series, tried to hit a delivery which had a bit of extra bounce but miscued it and Sreesanth took a fine return catch on his follow through.

The opener, who has not been included in the Test team, made 20 off 40 balls which included three hits to the fence and the visitors were tottering at 77 for 3 in 16.5 overs at that time.

The Kerala pacer at that stage had stunning second spell of 3-1-7-3 and Nazir became his 50th victim in the ODIs.

This brought in Mohd. Yousuf and skipper Shoaib Malik together and the two displayed such a power packed batting that stunned but also thrilled the packed stadium.

The visitors, who till the 17th over, were looking a struggling lot looked a changed side as Yousuf and Shoiab took command of the proceedings with delightful display of aggressive batting.

Pakistan's first 50 came from 10.3 overs, but their 100 came in 21.3 overs and 150 in 31.3 overs but as this duo took control, the scoring rate accelerated and next 50 (200) came in just 5.2 overs.

However, in between Shoiab Malik survived a chance as Yuvraj Singh dropped him off Murali Karthik when he was on 28 and team total was 139 for 3. And this dropped chance cost India dearly.

Malik, playing his 150th ODI, was a delight to watch as he came with superb free flowing drives, cuts and shots. And, soon he raced to his 24th half cenury with his 50 coming off 56 balls.

Thirty three-year old Yousuf, playing his 252nd ODI, along with Malik hoisted 100 run stand off 103 balls and the Indians looked clueless against this rampaging duo.

The pair was gaining strength and looked set to take their side's total to over 300 but Malik looked in tearing hurry to hit every ball and he committed a big mistake as he jumped out to blast Murali Kartik only to miss the ball and was stumped by Dhoni. The visiting skipper made 89 off 82 balls, hitting six boundaries and two sixes.

He was involved in a 168-run fourth wicket partnership with Yousuf in 25.3 overs. Yousuf left soon after as he also was stumped but this time the bowler was Yuvraj. The bearded batsman made 74 off 82 balls hitting four boundaries.

Next batsman, Misbah, had a whirlwind 17-ball 22 and was out when Pakistan were just one run short of 300. He was caught and bowled by Pathan.

The onslaught by the Pakistanis in the last 20 overs in which they scored 156 runs spoiled the Indian bowlers' spell with Sreesanth finishing 3 for 52, Pathan one for 59 and Kartik one for 62.

Praveen could not get any wicket. He had a ten over spell which cost him 50 runs.

UNI

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