Pakistan win series 4-2 at Delhi
It was quite predictable that India would fold up pathetically
, giving Pakistan a 4-2 series win. This comeback victory will most certainly be the stuff of legend, given that the hosts were 2-0 up
Without describing too much of the gory details, very briefly this is what happened. Ashish Nehra fed Afridi some real hit-me balls to get Pakistan away to a great start. Zaheer was bowling quite well at the other end. Shoaib Malik is becoming as much of a pain in the arse for India as Javed Miandad used to be. In fact, yesterday's game was played almost 19 years to the day Miandad hit that
sixer. His batting is almost anonymous when Afridi is around and by the time Afridi was out, Malik was well settled in, boriya bistar samet
. Youhana came in at #4 and these two ran superbly between the wickets and Pakistan's runrate never really went too much below 5.5 at any stage. In fact it slowed down noticeably after Afridi got out, slipping from the giddy heights of 8 an over to just over 6 an over when Youhana got out, thanks to a hopeless decision by the third umpire.
Pakistan continued to have wonderful partnerships, with Malik teaming up with Inzamam for around 40 runs. He was out for 72, bowled off his pads by Agarkar, who was playing his first game of the series. Inzamam and Younis Khan then continued the fun, with the runrate gradually increasing and Pakistan had reached 250 in the 45th over. A flurry of wickets fell towards the end as Agarkar had Inzamam caught behind off an edge that was non-existent while Nehra took two wickets in two balls to make his analysis look a lot better than he actually deserved. Pakistan ended up with 303, a total which was very likely to be beyond India's reach on a wicket being played on for the first time, in a must-win situation.
India's reply lasted all of six overs. Sehwag and Tendulkar started off cautiously, possibly with the intent of hanging around together till the seamers were off. They were out in quick succession, Sehwag in the 6th over caught by Afridi at slip who must have mistaken the batsman to have been coach Woolmer giving catching practice at nets. Tendulkar was out soon thereafter as the Pakistani seamers bowled superbly, barely erring in line and length. Dravid and Dhoni took ages to score their runs and Youhana's direct hit put Dravid out of his misery. Yuvraj followed a few runs later thanks to another Youhana special.
Pakistan's fielding has not been spectacular this series. India have also almost fielded as well. But Pakistan's close-in fielders have pulled off several crucial direct hits this series while India have faltered big-time, especially yesterday when Afridi took several quick singles and not a single throw hit the stumps. Dhoni, Kaif and Mongia followed their more established teammates in the span of one run and two overs. A section of the crowd showed its class as it threw bottles on the field, provoking a brief stoppage of play. They certainly got what they deserved as the last four batsmen put on 50 runs, just delaying the prize distribution ceremony. Shoaib Malik was the man of the match while Naved-ul-Hasan Rana was the man of the series. I'm fairly sure Inzamam and Afridi would have run him close. My choice would have been Afridi, because his blitzes ensured that Pakistan won three out of the last four games. Yes, Rana was consistent and he got his wickets on absolutely placid wickets. He also did take Sehwag's and Tendulkar's wickets a few times. But if it was anyone who turned the series around, it was Afridi.