Nov 19: Man of the match Shoiab Malik’s all-round performance of (89 and 3 for 61) made the difference
Skipper Shoaib Malik’s all-round performance aided with some good bowling by Sohail Tanveer steered Pakistan team to score a consolation 31-run victory over Pakistan, gaining a psychological edge before the Test series, in the fifth and final match of the Indian Oil cup played at the Sawai Mansingh stadium here on Sunday.
Putting in to bat Pakistan amassed 306 for the loss of six wickets and then bowled out India for 275. With the series went 3-2 in India’s favour, Pakistan gained some positives through this inconsequential match as skipper Malik ended up his run drought by scoring 89 runs and finding the ‘Midas touch’ with the ball as well by capturing three wickets.
Pakistan got off to a rare good start with Imran Nazir and Salman Butt putting on 65 runs for the first wicket. But Sreesanth, who was inconsistent in his first spell, found his rhythm back and gave three denting blows to send back Butt, Yaseer Hameed and Nazir in quick time floundering Pakistan at 77 for 3 at one stage.
But then came the rescuers of Pakistan team in the form of Malik and prolific Mohammad Yousuf. They got their team back on track with some hard running and intelligent placing.
Both of them added 168 runs for the fourth wicket to see Pakistan through with Mohammad Yousuf scoring 74 for his third half-century of the series.
Yousuf was again at his classy best. He was well on track for the century that he had missed both in Guwahati and Gwalior, but was stumped smartly by Dhoni, as expensive Yuvraj Singh got one past the bat as he charged down.
Malik's 82-ball 89 innings ended in similar fashion with Murali Kartik foxing him in the flight. Later Misbah-ul-Haq and the impressive Fawad Alam took their team’s total to 306 to ensure that the departure of the two set batsmen didn't really matter at the end.
"We were disappointed in losing the series, but this win is crucial and will boost the morale of the players," Skipper Malik said after winning the match.
"The team won and my performance was good. It can't be better," he added.
Left-arm paceman Sohail Tanvir and Rao Iftikhar ripped the Indian top order apart and shared four wickets in 12 overs. Sachin Tendulkar (30) opened the innings with Gautam Gambhir (12), as regular opener Sourav Ganguly was rested for the match.
Tanvir grabbed three early wickets in the absence of the rested Shoaib Akhtar to leave India struggling at 62 for four in the 12th over. He then got rid of Virender Sehwag (10) finishing with four for 53 in his quota of overs.
Rohit Sharma top-scored with 52 for his maiden one-day fifty and led the fightback by raising 81 runs for the fifth wicket with Yuvraj Singh (50), who made his fourth half-century of the series.
Sharma caught at long on by Yasir Hameed off Shoaib Malik before Yuvraj was controversially given out caught behind off Umar Gul by umpire Suresh Sharma. He reluctantly walked away and television replays suggested the ball had brushed his shoulder.
Man of the series Yuvraj got a hit in the helmet and found himself in all sorts of troubles before racing to 50 in 61 balls.
India suffered a set back with skipper Mahendra Dhoni got an injury after the keeper twisted his ankle while catching for a run. He called a runner before getting out at 24, while trying for big heave.
Later Irfan Pathan came up with sparkling 43 to reduce the margin of defeat.
Indian skipper Dhoni felt that the early strikes by Tanvir left his team struggling and praised Malik and Yousuf.
" Pakistan exploited the conditions quite well," Dhoni said.
"Our top order batsmen played the kind of shots which they don’t play on a normal day," he added.
Pakistan: S Butt c Sharma b Sreesanth 36, I Nazir c&b Sreesanth 20, Y Hameed c Dhoni b Sreesanth 1, M Yousuf st Dhoni b Yuvraj 74, S Malik st Dhoni b Kartik 89, Misbah-ul Haq c&b Pathan 22, F Alam not out 32, S Tanvir not out 3, Extras (b-10, nb-1, w-18) 29, Total (for six wkts) 306.
Fall of wkts: 1-65, 2-70, 3-77, 4-245, 5-261 6-299.
Bowling : Kumar 10-1-50-0, S Sreesanth 10-1-52-3, Pathan 10-0-59-1, Kartik 10-0-62-1, Sehwag 4-0-26-0, Y Singh 6-0-47-1.
India: G Gambhir lbw b Tanvir 12, S Tendulkar c Misbah b Tanvir 30, R Uthappa c Misbah b Iftikhar 1, V Sehwag c Ahmed b Tanvir 10, R Sharma c Hameed b Malik 52, Y Singh c Ahmed b Gul 50, MS Dhoni c Nazir b Malik 24, I Pathan b Tanvir 43, P Kumar c Tanvir b Malik 12, M Kartik c Nazir b Iftikhar 16, S Sreesanth not out 10, Extras (lb-3, w-11) 14, Total (all out) 275.
Fall of wkts: 1-15, 2-26, 3-57, 4-62, 5-143, 6-188, 7-195, 8-214, 9-238.
Bowling: Gul 10-0-50-1, Tanvir 9.5-0-53-4, Iftikhar 10-1-52-2, Alam 10-0-56-0, Malik 10-0-61-3.