An inspired Pakistan relied on a combined effort to clinch a stunning come-from-behind one-day series win against arch rivals India who surrendered meekly in the highly surcharged sixth and final tie today.
The Pakistanis outplayed the hosts in all the departments to record a thumping 159-run victory in the high-profile match marred briefly by unruly crowd behaviour after a ceremonious start in the presence of Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
The visitors put up an awesome batting display to rattle up 303 for eight overs and then never allowed the home team to recover from the early jolts, skittling them out for a meagre 144 in 37 overs to record one of the most lopsided matches of the series.
The Pakistanis, who were virtually written off as push-overs, when they crossed the border last month, made amends for the series defeat in Pakistan last year by winning the one-day series with a comfortable 4-2 margin.
It was an abject surrender by the Indians who never really looked like giving even a semblance of a fightback at the Ferozeshah Kotla where the Delhi spectators tarnished the spirit of the friendship series by hurling bottles onto the ground.
Play was held up for about 16 minutes immediately after the dismissal of Mohammad Kaif as a section of the crowd hurled plastic bottles onto the ground, forcing the players to return to the dressing room.
The security men and DDCA officials got into the act as they went about trying to restore order in the galleries and play eventually resumed after security was tightened in the troubled galleries.
Nothing seemed to go right for the Indians since the morning when skipper Rahul Dravid lost the toss and Shahid Afridi plundered 22 runs in the second over from Ashish Nehra.
Chasing a stiff target of 304, the hosts were never really in the hunt after they lost the dangerous Virender Sehwag (21) in the seventh over of the innings. The Indians needed a flying start from Sehwag and his early dismissal virtually opened up the floodgates as wickets kept falling at regular intervals.
Sehwag slammed three boundaries before he guided a Rana Naveed-ul Hasan delivery to Afridi in the slips much to the delight of the nearly 2000 Pakistani supporters who thronged the Kotla and waved Pakistani flags.
Five runs later, the home team suffered another jolt when Sachin Tendulkar (9) was bowled by a superb in-cutter by Rao Iftikhar and the Indians were in dire straits at 36 for two in the eighth over.
Dravid looked to be in good touch as he produced some flowing shots but his aggression was short lived as he was run out trying to steal a suicidal run.
The dismissal of Dravid virtually brought down the curtains on the Indian run chase. The hosts only had themselves to blame for the debacle after having led the series 2-0.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni (24), Yuvraj Singh (13), Mohammad Kaif (13) and Dinesh Mongia (0) perished in quick succession as the Indians gave the match on a platter to their arch rivals.
With most of the recognised batsmen back in the pavilion, it was a matter of time before the innings folded up.
Earlier, Pakistan paced their innings brilliantly with Shoaib Malik (72) and Inzamam-ul Haq (68) steering the team to a healthy total after Afridi set the tempo with a whirlwind 44.
The other top order batsmen also came up with useful contributions to leave the home team with an asking rate of over six runs to level the six-match series.
The in-form Afridi, who pulverised the Indians in the fifth match in Kanpur with a 46-ball 102, seemed to be in the same mood as he treated Nehra with disdain, starting his assault with three consecutive boundaries, then a six over long on and finished the over with another boundary.
But the hosts had better luck in the very next over when Zaheer Khan induced left-handed Salman Butt (3) to edge an outswinger to Sehwag at second slip who latched on to a diving catch.
However, the early dismissal of Butt did not seem to have any effect on the rampaging Afridi who continued to attack the Indian bowlers on what appeared to be a good batting track.
Both Afridi and Malik maintained a very brisk scoring rate of over seven runs in the early stages before the home team managed to get rid of the dangerous Afridi.
It was sweet revenge for Nehra as he evicted Afridi with an away-going delivery with wicketkeeper Dhoni holding on to the snick. Afridi's breezy 44 came off just 23 balls and contained six boundaries and a six.
The scoring rate dropped quite a bit after Afridi's dismissal as Malik and Yousuf Youhana were quite content in keeping the scoreboard moving with gentle nudges and pushes before opening up.
Malik got a reprieve when he was on 19 as Mongia failed to latch on to a difficult chance at mid-wicket with Zaheer being the unlucky bowler.
Dravid brought in Ajit Agarkar in place of Zaheer whose first spell of six overs cost 29 runs but the Mumbai bowler turned out to be far too expensive, going for 21 runs in his first three overs.
With the track providing no assistance at all to the bowlers, Malik and Youhana had no difficulty in collecting the runs though Dravid kept shuffling his bowlers to check the run flow.
Malik took a single off Tendulkar to notch up his 14th half century in one-dayers and the sixth against India. A few minutes later, it was Youhana's turn to complete his 42nd ODI fifty and the seventh against India.
The third wicket pair put on 85 runs before the Indians could get the breakthough courtesy a controversial run out handed out by third umpire K. Hariharan which brought an end to Youhana's 59-ball 50.
Strokeplay seemed to become a little more difficult in the later stages of the innings and the Indian spinners, particularly Harbhajan Singh, managed to check the run flow to some extent.
The off-spinner gave just 28 runs in his first spell of eight overs.
Inzamam anchored the innings brilliantly as he notched up his 80th ODI half century with a single of Zaheer and also take his team beyond the 250-mark in the 45th over.
Nehra claimed the wickets of Younis Khan (40) and Abdul Razzaq off successive balls in the 48th over to bring about some drama for the capacity crowd at the Kotla.
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