New Delhi, Jan 6: Under-fire Team India produced one of the finest comebacks in recent times to defend a low score of 167 at Feroz Shah Kotla on Sunday. Spurred by brilliant bowling and fielding efforts, India edged Pakistan by 10 runs to avoid a series whitewash. Pakistan took the trophy with 2-1 score after wins in Chennai and Kolkata.
Pakistan were over-cautious right from the start and paid the price. They were bowled out for 157 in 48.5 overs with Mohammad Hafeez last man out to Ishant Sharma.
The match produced an exciting finish with Pakistan needing 23 off final 18 balls. In the 48th over, bowled by debutant Shami Ahmed, India got two wickets in two balls. First, Saeed Ajmal was caught behind by MS Dhoni for his 200th catch in ODIs and next ball Junaid Khan was run out.
It came down to 23 off 12 balls with Hafeez on strike to Ishant. The right-hander hit two fours in the space of three balls but in trying for another one, was caught by Yuvraj Singh at short midwicket triggering wild celebrations from India players and fans on a cold evening.
Captain MS Dhoni won the Man-of-the-match award while Nasir Jamshed, with 241 runs, took the Man-of-the-series award.
Speaking after the match, Dhoni saluted his team's fielding. "Fielding is man of the match," he said.
Right through the Pakistan innings, the chase was on slow mode. No batsman tried to accelerate and they looked complacent with the target just 168. Pakistan's required run rate was always under six until the start of the 47th over where they needed 24 off 24.
It was Bhuvneshwar Kumar who gave India the belief that they could defend 167. The right-am paceman bowled straight 10 overs for 2/31 including two maidens. His new ball partner, debutant Shami Ahmed also impressed by bowling two maidens in his first two overs in international cricket.
The good work from the opening bowlers was well complemented by Ishant and Ravindra Jadeja. Among the five bowlers, only R Ashwin was expensive 2/47 in 10.
Captain Misbah-ul-Haq topscored with 39 but those runs came off 82 balls. His slow approach was one of the reasons for Pakistan's defeat.
Indian innings: 167 all out
It was too cold in Delhi but Indian batsmen were feeling the heat from Pakistan bowlers. Yet again, same story unfolded at a different venue. Barring MS Dhoni, India's batsmen struggled against pace and spin to fold for 167 in 43.4 overs.
First, it was left-arm paceman Junaid Khan who was excellent. Then entered offspinner Saeed Ajmal in the 23rd over to weave his magic. Ajmal was outstanding in his spell of 9.4 overs, taking his ODI career best figures of 5/24. Three of his victims were LBW. The 35-year-old spinner, playing in 74th ODI, secured his second five-wicket haul in ODIs. His previous best was 5/43.
India changed their opening combination by drafting Ajinkya Rahane in place of Virender Sehwag, but it made no difference. Rahane was out for just four runs. Gautam Gambhir looked uncomfortable against the pace of Junaid and Mohammad Irfan and his misery ended at 15.
Virat Kohli (7) fell cheaply again and Yuvraj Singh (23) was looking in good touch before Mohammad Hafeez cut short his stay with a good delivery which disturbed the stumps. India were reeling at 63/4 in the 16th over when Suresh Raina (31) was joined by Dhoni.
Raina and Dhoni started to rebuild for a while with a 48-run association but Ajmal started his string of successes by dismissing Raina and R Ashwin (0) in consecutive deliveries in the 29th over. Ravindra Jadeja averted the hat-trick ball and stayed till the end for his 27. The left-hander was the last man out, which gave Ajmal his fifth wicket.
Dhoni, who made 113 not out and unbeaten 54 in first two games, was on way to producing another rescue act. He hit Hafeez for two sixes in a row but at the start of the batting powerplay in the 35th over, he fell for 36 to Umar Gul. Dhoni, by far India's best batsman of the series, ended with 203 runs.
Junaid had superb bowling figures of 1/17 in 9 overs while Mohammad Irfan took two wickets for 28 runs in seven. Gul was expensive in eight overs, going for 45 for one wicket.
If Pakistan win today, they will create history with a clean sweep. It will be the first for them in India. Also, this will be first whitewash for Team India in India since West Indies won 5-0 in 1983.
Toss report: Dhoni opts to bat
India captain MS Dhoni won the toss and chose to bat first against Pakistan in the third and final One Day International here at Feroz Shah Kotla on Sunday.
India dropped Virender Sehwag and Ashok Dinda. Ajinkya Rahane and Shami Ahmed are playing. It is ODI debut for Shami Ahmed. Pakistan made one change, replacing Azhar Ali with Umar Akmal.
Dhoni, with a sore back, was doubtful for this game but has recovered to lead the side.
Pakistan have already pocketed the series with an unassailable lead of 2-0. They on in Chennai by five wickets and triumphed by 85 runs in Kolkata.
India: MS Dhoni (captain and wicketkeeper), Gautam Gambhir, Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina, R Ashwin, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ishant Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane, Ravindra Jadeja, Shami Ahmed.
Pakistan: Misbah-ul-Haq (captain), Mohammad Hafeez, Nasir Jamshed, Younis Khan, Shoaib Malik, Kamran Akmal (wicketkeeper), Junaid Khan, Umar Gul, Saeed Ajmal, Mohammad Irfan, Umar Akmal.
Umpires: Billy Bowden (New Zealand) and Sudhir Asnani
Third umpire: Vineet Kulkarni
Match Referee: Roshan Mahanama (Sri Lanka)
Match starts at 12 noon IST