Chennai: Nasir Jamshed stole MS Doni’s thunder as his second ODI century helped Pakistan beat India by six wickets at Chepauk, taking a 1-0 lead in the three-match series. Jamshed remained unbeaten on 101 and helped the visitors chase India's score of 227 in 48.1 overs.
Defending a below-par score, India were provided a brilliant start, with Bhuvneshwar Kumar cleaning up the in-form Mohammad Hafeez on the very first ball of the Pakistan innings. Hafeez shouldered arms to an in-swinging delivery. Azhar Ali consumed 38 deliveries for his nine runs before he mistimed an attempted pull off Bhuvneshwar.
Younis Khan (58), who has come for the ODI leg of Pakistan tour with Misbah-ul-Haq and other players, steadied the ship with Jamshed. He struck just three boundaries and a six during his knock, but was quick to rotate the strike. He was caught when Ravichandran Ashwin took a sharp catch at mid-wicket off Ashok Dinda.
Jamshed was lucky as he got lifelines while batting on 7, 24 and 68. First Bhuvneshwar couldn't run him out at the non-striker's end, then umpire S Ravi failed to see an inside edge taken by Virender Sehwag at slip off Ashwin and then Yuvraj Singh dropped a simple chance at backward point off Dinda. The left-hander made India pay, completing his hundred with a pull to square leg for a single off Bhuvneshwar. Shoaib Malik played second fiddle as the duo took the visitors over the line.
Earlier, Dhoni displayed a fine rearguard action, scoring his eighth ODI century to take India to 227 for 6 after paceman Junaid Khan skittled the hosts to 29 for 5.
Considering the situation India were in early on, Dhoni (113*) was extremely cautious in the beginning of his innings but displayed his array of attacking strokes later on. Both Suresh Raina (43) and Ashwin (31*) provided well-needed support to the Indian captain, sharing 73 and 125-run stands for the sixth and seventh wicket respectively.
Junaid found the perfect length on a damp wicket, pitching the ball up to the Indian batsmen, thus getting it to seam. Off his four dismissals, three were bowled.
Virender Sehwag (4), although started his innings with a flick off his pads off Junaid, never looked comfortable at the wicket. He was castled when he tried to push a length delivery that came in after pitching to covers, leaving a big gap between the bat and front pad.
Mohammad Irfan, who was retained along with Shoaib Malik after the impressive show in the two T20s, followed Junaid's footsteps, bowling full to Gautam Gambhir (8). He first took a few balls away from the batsman before bowling one full that crashed into Gambhir's stumps. Virat Kohli (0) didn't cover the line of another well-pitched delivery that dipped in sharply, hitting the off stump.
Junaid struck again, this time castling Yuvraj Singh (2), who missed the length ball that went straight after pitching before rattling the stumps. India slipped to 29 for 5 when Rohit Sharma was dismissed for just four. He was brilliantly caught by Mohammad Hafeez in the slips, diving full stretched to his right before hanging onto a tough chance.
Raina and Dhoni then dropped anchor, playing a lot of dot deliveries. Raina was bowled by Hafeez when he tried to break the shackles to make the most of the batting powerplay, which was taken in the same over.
Dhoni got a life on 16 when Pakistan skipper Misbah-ul-Haq dropped a sitter at mid-wicket off the bowling of Hafeez. But the Indian captain, like on so many occasions in the past, took the attack to Pakistan later on in the game.
He brought his wrists into play to execute his helicopter shot that raced away to the midwicket fence despite a very slow outfield and thumped Junaid for a maximum over long on off a no-ball. He then launched Saeed Ajmal for a huge six that went out of the MA Chidambaram Stadium. He got to his century when he smashed Irfan for another six over the extra cover fence.
Ashwin continued the elegance he showed in the Tests against England. He seemed at ease at a wicket that troubled almost every other batsman of the side. The onslaught launched by Dhoni and Ashwin took India to a challenging score.