India v Pakistan, 2nd Test, Kolkata, 5th day March 20, 2005

Classic contest reaches its climax

Close 4th day Pakistan 393 and 95 for 1 (Afridi 59, Taufeeq 29*) need 327 more runs to beat India 407 and 407 for 9 dec (Dravid 135, Karthik 93)
Live scorecard and ball-by-ball details

If the first nine days of the series is anything to go by, nothing can be predicted about the last day of play at Kolkata. Pakistan need 327 runs; India need nine wickets; both teams have the capacity to win it, and to let it slip.

India will be frustrated that the pitch hasn't deteriorated as much as expected, and it still playing easy, if a bit slower. As Dinesh Karthik demonstrated yesterday, application will suffice to survive on this track. It will just take two batsmen to have a partership that lasts a session-and-a-half, and the match will be safe. And if a quality player like Inzamam-ul-Haq or Yousuf Youhana really gets set, a chase could be on. Pakistan could also consider a wild-card move, like sending Abdul Razzaq at the fall of the next wicket with instructions to hit out.

India will take hope from the knowledge that both Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh are playing this game. They are both world-class spinners, and will not be as ineffectual as Danish Kaneria was. They have won matches on pitches just like this one, and they will have the luxury of being able to put men around the bat in close-in positions, because there are enough runs on the board to attack. That is an important consideration.

Amit Varma is contributing editor of Cricinfo. He writes the independent blogs, India Uncut and The Middle Stage.