Cold comfort


When asked about the current Pakistan team which had thrashed India in the first two One-day Internationals, MS Dhoni wasn't patronising when he called them well-balanced on the eve of the final game at the Feroze Shah Kotla. Dhoni noted that the visitors had not yet been put under pressure, the kind which grows exponential when India play Pakistan.

"We haven't been able to put pressure on them because we have not really batted well. So they will be tested at some point, but they are a very balanced side," Dhoni had said. Until India started bowling in wintry conditions after posting just 167 — the second time in this series they were bowled out for less than 200 — there was no sign of the hosts turning the screws on their arch-rivals.

The pressure exerted by a sharp Pakistan bowling unit had seen the Indian batting line-up crumble again. India's opening bowlers had little to defend. Right-arm medium pacer Shami Ahmed was making this debut and Bhuvneshwar Kumar was playing only this third ODI. This wasn't turning out to be a classic India-Pakistan encounter. Rather, it looked like a one-sided contest, a re-run of Chennai and Kolkata.

Kumar strikes twice

When Kamran Akmal, pushed up the order to open the innings, was trapped by Bhuvneshwar Kumar with an inswinger in the third over there was no cause for panic. Experienced Younis Khan was clean bowled by Kumar in the sixth over, but this too could at best be a minor setback. The runrate was crawling — Pakistan were 22 for 2 at the end of the 10th and moved to 37 for 2 by the end the 15th. But Nasir Jamshed, carrying the confidence of making two tons in two games, was still at the wicket and was joined by Misbah-ul-Haq. Umar Akmal, Shoaib Malik and Mohd Hafeez and the dangerous Umar Gul were still to bat.

... contd.

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