Another top-order failure, another loss and a first ODI series loss in over a year; Pakistan's top-order starts in this series have made for some horrific reading. After a 50-run stand in the first ODI at Peshawar, Pakistan collapsed to 68 for four at Rawalpindi and 82 for four at Lahore. In Multan, they disintegrated quicker, stumbling to 29 for four and this time, there was no Shoaib Malik-inspired rescue, as they fell for 161.
With all games thus far won by the team batting second, losing the toss in the morning and being put in wasn't the best start. Inzamam admitted he would have fielded first had he won the toss but although India bowled accurately throughout, the majority of batsmen were out to rash shots; some like Kamran Akmal's cut to short point were poor, others like Imran Farhat's ugly pull to mid-on, awful. An understandably dejected Inzamam-ul-Haq said later, "Today we just didn't put enough runs on board. It's disappointing to lose such a big series against team like India at home. We made some mistakes early on and that's why we lost too many early wickets."
Inzamam refused to blame the absence of key players such as Shahid Afridi and Shoaib Akhtar for the loss, instead highlighting his own side's fallibility and India's strength. "One or two of our players were not there, but I will say my team was capable of doing much better than what we did today. The boys have tried hard but we couldn't succeed. We were weak in some areas but India outplayed us in all three departments of the game."
Despite the rash of injuries and the poor run of form some players were in, only one change was made to the playing XI today; Mohammad Sami came in for Afridi. Umar Gul, also suffering from side strain, missed out. Salman Butt, under pressure after two successive first-over ducks, was under some pressure and many thought he might be replaced. But Inzamam was phlegmatic about changing the line-up. "Salman Butt had given us good scores in the series and it was not possible for me to drop him after just two bad knocks. I don't think if I had made some changes it would have made a difference. I don't think we played the wrong combination here."
He also ruled out that his side was under extra pressure after two defeats at home, either from the public or the media. "There is always pressure on the home team in a series, but all the players are used to it and I don't think that was the reason for losing the series. Sometimes the team does not play well. We played well when we toured India and this time they played well against us - the performance doesn't remain the same all the time."
Karachi beckons now and only face-saving remains at stake for Pakistan. When Inzamam said before this series began that he might become more selective in the matches he played due to his back injury, he would not have envisaged the rotation policy coming into effect in a dead rubber game. Changes seem likely however. "We will give a chance to some of the bowlers who haven't got chance in the four matches. It will be difficult to motivate the team but we will try our best to win the last match."