Bangalore: Anil Kumble raised visions of a dramatic Indian victory with a five-wicket haul before Pakistan managed to escape with a draw in the third and final Test here on Wednesday.
The veteran leg-spinner grabbed 5-60 with shrewd variations on a wearing track as Pakistan finished at 162-7 in fading light chasing an improbable 374-run target off 48 overs on the fifth and final day.
The Kumble-led India clinched the Test series 1-0 after winning the opening match by six wickets in New Delhi and drawing the next two in Kolkata and here.
It was India's first Test series triumph against Pakistan at home in more than two decades, the last success coming in 1980 under Sunil Gavaskar.
India needed the last three wickets when bad light thwarted their incredible victory bid. Mohammad Yousuf (10) and tailender Mohammad Sami (four) were the unbeaten batsmen with 12 overs remaining.
According to the playing conditions, both the teams had agreed that artificial lights would not be used in the series.
There was no hint of collapse when Pakistan were 144-3 in the 32nd over following a 71-run stand for the fourth wicket between Faisal Iqbal (51) and in-form Misbah-ul-Haq (37).
But Kumble virtually turned the match upside-down when he dismissed Iqbal and Kamran Akmal off successive deliveries in front of his cheering home fans on a day when team-mate Sourav Ganguly missed out on a rare landmark.
It was the second time the spinner had grabbed two wickets in an over, having earlier removed opener Yasir Hameed (39) and stand-in captain Younis Khan.
Kumble was brilliantly backed by part-time spinner Yuvraj Singh, who celebrated his 26th birthday by removing Misbah and debutant Yasir Arafat as Pakistan lost four wickets for 10 runs in a dramatic collapse.
A dull draw looked on the cards when India declared their second innings closed at 284-6 an hour after the lunch-break.
But Kumble enlivened the proceedings by striking in quick succession to push Pakistan on the verge of defeat with his 34th haul of five or more wickets in a Test innings.
Ganguly's march towards to a rare feat and Pakistani fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar's duel with the batsmen were the only talking points in the first two sessions.
Former captain Ganguly fell nine runs short of becoming the seventh batsman to score a double-century and a hundred in a Test.
The left-hander, who cracked a maiden double-ton in the first innings, was dismissed for 91 after an impressive exhibition of strokeplay.
Ganguly looked set to join the elite club in his 99th Test before uppishly driving fast bowler Mohammad Sami to Iqbal, who took a smart catch at gully. But he had completed 1,000 runs in a calendar year at that stage.
Australians Doug Walters and Greg Chappell, West Indies' Lawrence Rowe and Brian Lara, Gavaskar and England's Graham Gooch are other batsmen to have scored a double-century and a hundred in the same Test.
Ganguly and later Venkatsai Laxman were involved in a fascinating duel with Akhtar, who was at his best in his final innings of the series. Akhtar bowled his heart out, testing the batsmen with short-pitched balls.
Ganguly, 63 overnight, was struck on the body by an Akhtar delivery, but continued to bat. Laxman (14) was not so lucky as he received a nasty blow on his elbow in Akhtar's first over after the lunch-break.
Laxman got on-field medical attention before walking back to the pavilion.
Ganguly did not let the blow affect his concentration. He continued to bat confidently and was more aggressive than Rahul Dravid (42), driving and cutting firmly during his 134-ball knock containing one six and 12 fours.
Ganguly and Dravid put on 152 for the third wicket.
India lost three wickets in the space of six runs, but Dinesh Karthik (52) and Irfan Pathan (21 not out) scored comfortably. Karthik regained form with his first half-century of the series.