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A warning for the hosts

The one-day series has taken a turn for the better with Pakistan winning in style at the Keenan Stadium. The Indians were given a taste of their own medicine as Pakistan set a huge target for the first time in this series and the Indians failed miserably in their chase. The Pakistanis had to win this game if they were to stay in the series and all they needed was a spark that could stoke the fire in their bellies. The toss going their way provided the fillip and their performance was thoroughly professional in every department. The pitch at the Keenan Stadium was true with plenty of runs to be had, but it had a far better carry than the ones that were laid out during the first two one-dayers.

Nehra bowled an excellent spell in the morning, as did Zaheer Khan by working up decent pace and disconcerting bounce. There was something in it for the quicker bowlers provided they put in the required effort. Nehra was the best bowler on view but the Pakistani batsmen paced the innings in a well organised manner. Butt and Shoaib Malik consolidated after the departure of Afridi with Butt emerging as the star with a classy century. He got off the blocks in the earlier games but failed to go on to make substantial scores but his effort at the Keenan Stadium was a role model for youngsters on building an innings.

Butt was very relaxed as Pakistan was setting a target rather than chasing. He did not try to hit the ball like he did in the previous games which improved his timing and hence his execution of shots was exquisite. Butt shifted gears the moment he reached his half-century and his partnership with Malik provided Pakistan the foundation from which to launch the onslaught. Ganguly used as many as seven bowlers but there was no stopping the Pakistanis with every top order batsman making useful contributions.

Scorching pace

The chase was expected to provide a lot of entertainment in the afternoon but Sami and Naved-Ul-Hassan blasted the Indian top order batsman with real pace. Sami worked up a lot of pace and with Naved dismissing the danger man Sehwag early, the Indian batting looked ordinary to say the least. Both Sami and Naved bowled in the right areas and bowled back off a length in order to push the batsmen on to their back foot. Except for Sehwag and Tendulkar, the others in the current batting line-up are not natural stroke makers when pushed on to the back foot. This particular deficiency in the Indian batsmen was exposed by Naved and Sami in a telling manner. Ganguly and Tendulkar resorted to overcome this ploy of Sami and Naved through aggression but perished in their efforts. Both of them ended up nicking to the slips and the lack of coordination between their footwork and their minds was obvious. Ganguly and Tendulkar are under pressure to put runs on the board and it remains to be seen how soon they turn the corner.

Naved hit a purple patch at Jamshedpur and his effort could not have come at a better time for his side. While Naved got his reward for his efforts, a lot of credit must be given to Sami for softening up the Indian batsmen. He could have ended up with at least a couple more wickets but he will have the satisfaction of having rattled a solid player like Dravid on a true pitch. The Pakistanis have prevented India from running away with the series and this victory will serve as a warning for the hosts. It will be worth remembering that Inzamam's boys came back strongly after being down in the Test series.

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