Pakistan struggle against determined Indians
Pakistan 364 for 6 (Hameed 91, Inzamam 77) trail India 675 for 5 dec by 311 runs
India inched closer to getting themselves into a position that would allow them to dream of a first-ever Test win in Pakistan. They ended a day of gently seesawing fortunes with the advantage, having taken six Pakistani wickets at intermittent intervals throughout the day, the last coming off the final delivery. India haven't quite got a grip on this game, but there were signs of Pakistan choking under the sheer volume of runs. Yet they might just have kept India out in the field long enough to make them think twice about enforcing the follow-on even if they do have the option. At 364 for 6 by the close, Pakistan were 311 runs adrift of the mammoth Indian total.
The two best batsmen in the Pakistan team, Inzamam-ul-Haq and Yousuf Youhana, were both extremely unhappy at being given out by Simon Taufel. Inzamam was at the wrong end of a bat-pad catch while Youhana was dismissed trying to flick a ball slipping well down the leg side. On a flat pitch, under the glare of the exceedingly hot Multan sun, it was not easy for the bowlers, and they were grateful for any help that they received. But it was not all bad news for Pakistan: Yasir Hameed batted exceedingly well for his 91, while Abdul Razzaq (who was still there when stumps were drawn) and Moin Khan struck some telling blows towards the end of the day. They took the aggressive route to survival, and it came off for them.
India gained the early advantage by removing both openers in the first session, but Hameed and Inzamam looked to be batting Pakistan towards safety when the persevering Anil Kumble struck by removing Inzamam before tea, and then Irfan Pathan doubled India's joy by dismissing Hameed.
Inzamam was deeply disappointed, but had to go when he was adjudged caught at forward short leg for 77, with 13 fours. Hameed, whose assured batting delighted the small crowd, was unlucky to miss out on a century. Hameed made 91 (151 balls, 14 fours) and richly deserved a century just for the assured manner in which he handled everything that was bowled at him.
So all the good work of the second session was undone by a brief passage of play in which two wickets fell in the space of ten runs. Until he was given out, Inzamam had handled the barrage of around-the-wicket balls with aplomb. He cut out the horizontal-bat shots and defended with bat and pad held close together. When the ball was pitched well outside the leg stump he nonchalantly kicked it away. The fall of Inzamam's wicket, with the score on 233, dented Pakistan's hopes of avoiding the follow-on.
Shortly afterwards, Hameed tickled Pathan through to Parthiv Patel (243 for 4), to give India a decided boost on a day when bowling was a thankless task. Despite a couple of accurate spells of bowling by Pathan and Lakshmipathy Balaji, India's attack never threatened to run through the Pakistan batting line-up. Zaheer Khan was not at his best and Anil Kumble, though enthusiastic, did not trouble the batsmen consistently.
But, thanks to the discipline showed early on, India had prised out two wickets in the morning session. The first to go was Taufeeq Umar (23), who was forced to push at a Pathan delivery that cut away, and only managed an edge to Rahul Dravid in the slips (58 for 1). Just 26 balls later, India had their second breakthrough when Balaji got one to pitch on the stumps and straighten enough to beat Imran Farhat's bat. Farhat (38), who was trying to work the ball to the on side, missed and was trapped in front (73 for 2).
Zaheer improved steadily through the day, but success eluded him till the 94th over of the innings, when he had Youhana (35) caught behind down the leg side (321 for 5). India then had to wait till the last ball of the day for their next wicket. Sachin Tendulkar set Moin up perfectly, and bowled him for 17 with a googly that ensured India ended the day on a high (364 for 6). Razzaq, battling it out on 47, will have to wait till tomorrow to meet his partner.