Bangalore: Batting maestro Sachin Tendulkar cracked a majestic 97 to steer India to a series-clinching six-wicket win over Pakistan in the fourth one-dayer at the Capt Roop Singh Stadium in Gwalior on Thursday.
India take an unassailable 3-1 lead in the five-match series to bag home series (ODI) after a span of 24 years.
India chased down the target of 256 with six wickets and 21 balls to spare.
The 34-year-old Tendulkar, out for 99 in the second match at Mohali, struck 16 fours until he played on to the stumps off a fuller length delivery pitched outside the off-stump from Umar Gul.
The master blaster's quest for the elusive 42nd century continued as this is for the sixth time he is getting out in the nervous ninties in 2007. However this will not take sheen out of his magnificent knock which is a eduction for the youngsters.
The hallmark of his chanceless innings was the three boundaries he struck in as many balls in Afridi's second over had the stamp of class written all over them. First he played a lofted inside out drive over extra covers then a eye catching cover drive which left the fielders unmoved and then a best of all square cut bisecting point and deep third man fielders. Infact Sachin's innings overshadowed Yousuf crafty 99*.
Yuvraj Singh (53*) and skipper Mahendra Dhoni (45* ) raised 101 for the unbroken fifth wicket to finish in style.
Earlier Mohammad Yousuf and Younis Khan hit half-centuries to help Pakistan set a competitive 255/6.
Middle-order batsman Yousuf was unlucky enough to miss century by a run to remain unbeaten on 99 while Younis crafted a fine 68 in 89 balls and the duo shared a useful 51-run stand for the third wicket to help their side to a healthy total after the early setback.
Yousuf belted seven boundaries and two sixes in his 104-ball knock.
Pakistan opting to bat first was off to a poor start after their in-form opener Salman Butt was tarpped plumb in-front by RP Singh in the very second ball of the match.
Skipper Shoaib Malik (31) and his deputy Younis saw off the early scares from RP and Pathan and resurrected Pak innings. The two took the score to 78 in 19 overs before Malik was castled by Zaheer. Younis joined by Yousuf paced their innings nicely working the ball around for ones and twos before opening their arms.
Yuvraj broke this partnership when Younis played a floated one on the leg stump across the line resulting in top edge only to give regulation catch back to Yuvi. Younis struck five boundaries and swept Harbhajan for a massive six over mid-wicket region.
Shahid Afridi came and went in whimper, was unlucky to be given out LBW off a Ganguly delivery that stuck Afridi outside the off-stum line.
The next man in Misbah joined set batsman Yousuf and shared 94-run partnership in just under 15 overs Misbah scored run a ball 40 and the good thing about his innings was he eased the pressure on Yousuf by allowing him to play his natural self- graft and nudge shots. The duo took their side past 200 in the 42nd over of the innings. Misbah hit two boundaries and a six before being castled by a slower one off Pathan.
Zaheer was the pick among the India bowlers with 2 for 40 in his 10 overs. RP, who accounted for Butt in his very first over, bowled to a nagging line and length and swung the bowl in to trouble right handers. Pathan, Ganguly and Yuvraj took a wicket apiece.
The last ODI is scheduled to be held in Jaipur on Sunday.