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The Bulletin by Amit Varma
March 18, 2005
This series is being played on a rocking chair. Yesterday, it seemed that it had leaned far enough towards Pakistan to need just one further push to keel over, but then the Indians pulled, and pulled, and pulled. They got eight Pakistani wickets for 120 runs on the day, to take a lead of 14, and then moved smoothly to 121 for 2. A shocking decision from the 58-year-old Steve Bucknor, playing in his 100th Test, resulted in Sachin Tendulkar, in sublime form, being sent back to the pavilion for 52, after which India finished on 133 for 3. But that was the only bad moment in an otherwise outstanding day for India.
Rahul Dravid and Tendulkar had added 98 in 168 balls when Bucknor struck. Tendulkar was beaten by the late swing of a ball from Abdul Razzaq, and the daylight between bat and ball was visible from the press box, at the furthest and highest part of the ground. Bucknor, after his usual deliberation, lifted his finger. Tendulkar shook his head and walked off. India have been hard done by Bucknor before, but they were still in a strong position as the day ended.
Both Dravid and Tendulkar played immaculate innings. "I was in complete control," Dravid had earlier said of his first-innings 110, and this innings was quite in the same vein. Even Danish Kaneria, from whom so much had been expected, could not rattle him, and resorted to bowling a negative line outside leg, from round the wicket.
Tendulkar, criticised for batting slowly in the Mohali Test, did nothing of the sort here. He batted so well that everything Pakistan bowled was played with ease and command. His 50 came off 83 balls, a knock of the highest class. But it was unfulfilled, cut short for no fault of Tendulkar's.
Earlier in the day, India's bowlers worked hard to get Pakistan out on a pitch where they had struggled yesterday. Lakshmipathy Balaji bowled two tight spells in the morning, accounting for the first wicket of the day, Yousuf Youhana, who shouldered arms to an incutter and was trapped lbw for 104.
Harbhajan Singh also tested the batsmen. With the pitch offering him little assistance, he flighted the ball generously. He ran in aggressively, wearing a white patka that was reminiscent of that great flighter of the ball, Bishan Singh Bedi. He got the wickets of Kamran Akmal and Mohammad Sami after lunch, both of them tempted into injudicious heaves. He had begun this game on 189 Test wickets, equal with Erapalli Prasanna, and he now became India's most successful offspinner.
Anil Kumble was India's bowler of the day, picking up three important wickets. His intensity was such that had he been a fast bowler, his run-up alone would have daunted the batsman. Being the legspinner that he is, though, aggression had to be matched with cunning. Today, the Pakistanis weren't a match.
His most important wicket was that of Younis Khan, lured into pushing a legspinner to VVS Laxman at second slip. Younis had, again, been the best of Pakistan's batsmen, and had taken his score along to 147. He had a useful partnership of 50 with Inzamam-ul-Haq, who made a fluent 30 before playing at a ball, from the otherwise lacklustre Irfan Pathan, that was angled across him and caught the edge.
The lower order showed none of the application they had displayed at Mohali, and a number of loose shots were played. It was a huge advantage for India to have taken the lead, given that they had the advantage of bowling fourth. But they started the second innings poorly.
Gautam Gambhir was yorked by Sami in the second over of the innings, and Sehwag was bowled off an inside-edge in the fourth. He had hit Mohammad Khalil for three fours in his first over, and his dismissal rocked that chair the other way just a bit. But then Dravid and Tendulkar came together and rocked it back.
Youhana lbw Balaji 104 (281 for 3) Shouldered arms to an incutter from Balaji, hit outside the line but not offering a shot, fair decision.
Inzamam-ul-Haq c Karthik b Pathan 30 (331 for 4) Fished at a ball angling away from him, straightforward edge.
Asim Kamal run out (Tendulkar) 6 (347 for 5) Run out going for a third run, excellent throw from the deep by Tendulkar.
Younis Khan c Laxman b Kumble 147 (361 for 6) Caught at second slip pushing at a legbreak.
Kamran Akmal c Tendulkar b Harbhajan 0 (362 for 7)An injudicious hoick off an offspinner that looped up to mid-on.
Abdul Razzaq c Dravid b Kumble 17 (378 for 8) Tried to cut Kumble, edged, off the glove of Karthik to Dravid at first slip.
Mohammad Sami c Ganguly b Harbhajan 7 (378 for 9) Tried to hoick Harbhajan on the leg side, ball looped up, Ganguly at short leg ran back and took the catch.
Mohammad Khalil c Sehwag b Kumble 4 (393 for 10) Mishit slog caught at midoff.
Gautam Gambhir b Sami 1 (14 for 1) Beaten by a searing yorker.
Virender Sehwag b Sami 15 (23 for 2) Under-edged a ball outside off stump that stayed low, and it slowly bounced back on to his stumps.
Sachin Tendulkar c Akmal b Razzaq 52 (121 for 3) Beaten by late swing, adjudged caught behind by Steve Bucknor. Replays showed Tendulkar had missed the ball.
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