India respond to Ajmal heroics
India salvaged some pride ahead of the one-day international series with England by pulling off an unlikely 10-run win over Pakistan in Delhi.
The hosts, two down in the three-match series following heavy defeats in Chennai and Kolkata, looked set to be beaten again after posting a meagre total of 167 upon winning the toss.
Saeed Ajmal was chiefly responsible for India’s initial misery as he returned career-best figures of 5-24, but Pakistan then crumbled to 157 all out in reply, with the final wicket sparking wild celebrations from Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Co.
The outpouring of joy was perhaps indicative of the pressure felt by India following mounting criticism of their performances in the media.
A third successive defeat appeared highly likely today, only for Pakistan to lose their final seven wickets for 44 runs.
Faced with a modest victory target, the tourists, hampered by a hand injury to Mohammad Hafeez that ensured the opener dropped to seven in the order, delivered a laboured display.
Hafeez’s replacement, Kamran Akmal, fell lbw for a duck to Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who then bowled Younus Khan via inside edge.
Misbah-ul-Haq put Pakistan back on course, sharing 47 with the in-form Nasir Jamshed and 52 with Umar Akmal.
However, both Jamshed and Misbah were ousted by Ravichandran Ashwin when well set and India piled on the pressure thereafter.
With runs proving increasingly hard to come by, Shoaib Malik fell lbw to Ishant Sharma and Umar was stumped when dancing down the track to Ravindra Jadeja.
Hafeez and Umar Gul then used up seven overs in adding 19, before the latter was caught at long-on off Ishant with 24 required.
Debutant seamer Shami Ahmed had Ajmal caught behind and Junaid Khan fell victim to a shambolic run-out next ball as Pakistan continued to implode.
Hafeez did his best to keep his side’s hopes alive, but was caught at midwicket off the penultimate delivery of the 49th over.
India’s own efforts with the bat were similarly unimpressive.
Mohammad Irfan got rid of Ajinkya Rahane, opening in place of Virender Sehwag, and Gautam Gambhir with the new ball, while Virat Kohli’s poor run of form continued when he edged Junaid to second slip.
Hafeez subsequently produced a magic delivery to bowl Yuvraj and neither Suresh Raina nor Dhoni could convert their starts.
It was Ajmal who ended Raina’s innings on 31 before trapping Ashwin lbw for a golden duck.
After Dhoni had cut Gul straight to point on 36, the off-spinner then ran through the tail in clinical fashion, yet his efforts ultimately proved in vain.