Tendulkar helps seal series

Exactly 18 years since he made his international debut in a Test match against Pakistan in Karachi, Sachin Tendulkar showed that he is still in the same prime form and shape as before, as he powered India to an unassailable 3-1 series lead.

Chasing 256 to seal the series, after being asked to bowl first, India raked up the runs in 46.2 overs, thanks largely to a sparkling batting performance by Tendulkar. Unfortunately, the little master could not bring up his 42nd one-day century, as he was dismissed again in the 90s for the sixth time this year.

The only time India looked hesitant in the chase was when Tendulkar was clean bowled by Umar Gul for 97, with the score at 159-4. However, skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Yuvraj Singh made sure there was no chance for Pakistan to come back, with a diligent 101-run unbeaten partnership in not-so-easy condititions.

Yuvraj once again proved what an invaluable contributor he is to this India team, continuing his unbelievable form with the bat, notching up an unbeaten half century that included four fours and a maximum. Dhoni too eased his way to 45 not out with just one four less than Yuvraj.

India got off to a brisk start, despite the loss of wickets of Sourav Ganguly and Gautam Gambhir, thanks largely to the aggressive approach and intent Tendulkar showed from the very first ball he faced. He displayed most of the trademark shots during his time in the middle, with the same perfection as he did a decade back.

Tendulkar’s 107-run partnership with Virender Sehwag put the Indians in a comfortable position. The two counter-attacked the Pakistan pace battery with vigilance, and were able to demoralize them. Both their wickets in a short succession, Sehwag run out and Tendulkar bowled after a brief delay due to the ball getting wet, meant that the two new batsman had to employ a cautious approach. Dhoni and Yuvraj did just that before opening up their arms and bringing up a comprehensive win.

Earlier in the day, Mohammad Yousuf’s brilliant 99 not out helped Pakistan post 255-6 on the board. The Pakistan innings was sort of a rollercoaster innings, as a first over wicket was followed by two steady partnerships of 78 and 51 between the captain Shoaib Malik and Younis Khan, and the latter and Yousuf.

However, two quick wickets to part-time bowlers Yuvraj and Ganguly, brought India right back into it, as they now looked to restrict Pakistan well under 250. However, Misbah-ul-Haq’s aggressiveness and Yousuf’s stable pile up of runs helped Pakistan just cross the mark, setting up a challenging total.

Pakistan 255-9 (50 overs)
Younis Khan 68, Mohammad Yousuf 99*, Misbah-ul-Haq 40
Zaheer Khan 2-40

India 260-4 (46.2 overs)
Sachin Tendulkar 97, Virender Sehwag 43, Yuvraj Singh 53*, Mahendra Singh Dhoni 45*

Man of the Match: Sachin Tendulkar

India won by six wickets and lead the five-match series 3-1

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