Pakistan outlasted their Indian rivals on the cricket pitch to win their One Day International series 2 matches to 1. Pakistanâ€™s ODI captain Misbah-ul-Haq credited youngsters left-arm fast bowler Junaid Khan and Mohammad Irfan for keying the victory. â€The way they (Irfan and Khan) have performed, it shows they have a bright future,â€ Misbah said. â€They proved against the worldâ€™s best batting lineup and simply outclassed them for a huge win.â€
Irfan and Khan combined for 11 wickets in the series. Khan claimed the key wicket of 2012 ODI Player of the Year Virat Kohli for 0, 6 and 7 in all the three matches which stifled the middle of the Pakistani batting order.
Pakistan gradually asserted its dominance over Dhoniâ€™s men over the course of the ODI series, before taking a step back in Delhi. And it was the rookie bowlers, including Junaid Khan, who defied all odds and took charge. Bowling with a big heart and near-perfect accuracy, the rookie left-hander simply outclassed the likes of Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag, Yuvraj Singh, Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma.
Mohammad Irfan was also ready to complement Junaid. Though the 30-year-old could only bag four wickets in all the five limited-overs games on the tour, the gigantic bowler from the other end kept the Indians guessing with his pace and extra bounce. Junaid, Irfan and Gul smothered Indiaâ€™s top-order, giving Saeed Ajmal and Hafeez significant room to manoeuvre and thus giving the Indians no reprieve.
On the batting side of the Pakistani squad, Nasir Jamshedâ€™s exquisite centuries, Hafeezâ€™s classic strokes, productive improvisation by a resurgent Shoaib Malik along with Younis Khanâ€™s experience kept Pakistan sailing smoothly.
Nasir undoubtedly graduated in this demanding series. The left-handed opener coped with the situations with patience and resolve, playing with extremely solid defence and timely belligerence though shot-making on the off-side and running between the wickets remain his gray areas. One hopes the burly batter overcomes these quickly to prolong his stay in world cricket.
Hafeez was phenomenal, both with bat and ball. The Twenty20 skipper, who was instrumental in helping Pakistan draw the T20 series, also proved himself in the ODIs that he is a class act who can perform consistently. Boasting all the attributes of a complete player, Hafeez can be seriously considered for ODI and Test leadership after Misbah leaves the scene.
And one cannot overlook Dav Whatmoreâ€™s contributions as manager of the squad. Pakistan has always boasted talent on the pitch, but Whatmore has shown the ability to channel that talent on the pitch, and steer the talent away from trouble off of it.