Our history books did’nt cover this. They elaborated on how the Maratha’s were beaten black & blue. But they never stated that Abdali lost more than half of his force due to superior fire power of Ibrahim Khan Gardi & the Maratha Cavalry. Had Malhar Rao Holkar not slipped away with this 20000 strong force under a secret pact with Najib ul Daullah the Rohilla, it would have been a different story for Bharat Varsh.
That’s because Third battle of Panipat was not a one sided battle. It was a fierce battle. Marathas fought till last breath with empty stomach and inflicted big losses and causalities on Afghans led by Ahmad Shah Abdali (Durrani).
Another reason is the Army which lost Panipat(1761) was not the entire army of Marathas. Peshwa Nanasaheb was already near Narmada with nearly one lakh strong army with him to help Sadashiv Rao Bhau but later he got news of defeat.
Abdali suffered severe losses in Panipat. It was a costly victory for him. After abdali won battle he wrote a letter to Peshwa Nanasaheb. Here is what he wrote :-
There is no reason to have animosity amongst us. Your son Vishwasrao and your brother Sadashivrao died in battle, was unfortunate. Bhau started the battle, so I had to fight back unwillingly. Yet I feel sorry for his death. Please continue your guardianship of Delhi as before, to that I have no opposition. Only let Punjab until Sutlaj remain with us. Reinstate Shah Alam on Delhi’s throne as you did before and let there be peace and friendship between us, this is my ardent desire. Grant me that desire.Clearly he was in no position to fight another strong Maratha army led by Peshwa and Raghunath Rao aka Raghoba.
Plus the most important point. Capital of Maratha Empire and Seat of chhatrapati was Satara and Seat of Peshwas was Pune. Both deep inside Deccan covered by Sahaydri. Aurangzeb himself tried to do this for 27 years and died a loser in Deccan.
I must say Abdali was not a fool like Aurangzeb and Mughals. He understood realities and practical situation. Walking into Deccan to capture Maratha empire was like Walking into a death trap and towards own grave.