Younis powers Pakistan to 570
Younis Khan, whose place was on the line after the first Test at Mohali and who responded with a hundred at Kolkata, completed an incredible turnaround of his personal fortunes on the second day of the Bangalore Test by making 267, the highest score by a visiting batsman in India. Younis's monumental effort took Pakistan to 570, a score that could have been much greater had it not been for the control exerted by Harbhajan Singh, who put his recent troubles and a listless first-day show behind him to take six of the eight wickets to fall on the day. Pakistan were all out in time to give themselves ten overs at the Indian batsmen before stumps, but Virender Sehwag, as always, showed scant regard for the match situation by making 39 before stumps at better than a run a ball.
Younis's innings was all the more significant because he lost his overnight partner, Inzamam-ul-Haq, in the second over of the day, and thereafter no Pakistani batsman made more than 37. The pitch at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium afforded more help to the spinners than it had on the first day - though Anil Kumble, who finished with 0 for 159 in 46 overs, his worst analysis in any Test innings, might not concur - and once Harbhajan was brought on to bowl in the second hour of the day, he struck up an excellent rhythm. Thereafter he bowled from the BEML end right up to the end of the innings, a marathon effort.
Resuming the day on 127, Younis continued to accumulate steadily and find the boundary every now and then. He offered one clear chance on 177, when he nicked a drive at an outswinger from Lakshmipathy Balaji, but VVS Laxman at second slip did not even put the chance down - he missed it altogether, and the ball ran away for four.
Thereafter Younis put his head down again, and proceeded serenely to his double-hundred, bringing it up with a leg glance off the suffering Kumble. It was not only his career-best score, but also the first double-hundred by a Pakistani batsman in India - the previous highest was Saeed Anwar's matchwinning 188 not out at Kolkata in 1999. By this time Younis was well into his fifth session at the crease, but he continued to bat with unflagging concentration and impressive commitment, frequently sprinting twos in the afternoon heat after placing the ball cleverly between a close fielder and a deep one.
Having moved to 417 for 4 by lunch, Pakistan might have looked to punish the bowling thereafter, but in fact they found it hard going. Though he hardly employed his doosra at all, Harbhajan appeared as focused on one spot on the pitch - the offspinner's length, six to eight inches wide of off-stump and just short of driving length - as Younis was on carrying the score forward.
The best of his six wickets was that of Abdul Razzaq. Tied down for a long period, Razzaq finally aimed a drive through cover at a ball which dipped and turned, and looped off the inside-edge to be gleefully pouched by the bowler - a dismissal that must have made Erapalli Prasanna and every other school, district, state and international offspinner watching it beam with pleasure (446 for 6).
Once India were into the tail it became Younis's responsibility to push the scoring, and it was here that his strength begin to give out and, and after several windy heaves and some adept reverse-sweeping he holed out to cover (567 for 9).
Soon after the Indian openers were in to try and see out a tense half-hour or so, but Mohammad Sami could not find the same rhythm that made him such a difficult customer in the second innings at Kolkata, and Sehwag was soon in full flow. Inzamam quickly turned to the spin of Danish Kaneria, but his fifth ball disappeared over long-on for six. However, Arshad Khan, bowling for the first time in a Test since December 2000, did enough in his one over to suggest that he could be a threat tomorrow.
But the star of the day was Younis, whose innings bore a striking resemblance to the 270 made in Rawalpindi last year by Rahul Dravid, a batsman Younis greatly admires. Both came to the crease early in the innings (Dravid the second ball, Younis the eighth), and proceeded to hold one end up for nearly six sessions. 593 of India's total of 600 on that occasion were made while Dravid was at the crease, while Younis was around while 565 of Pakistan's 570 were made. And both batsmen were ninth out. All Younis will be praying for now is that his innings sets up a Pakistan victory, as Dravid's did last year.
Inzamam lbw Balaji 184 (331 for 3) Rapped on the pads by one that a ball that straightened from middle stump.
Youhana c Karthik b Harbhajan 37 (415 for 4) Edged a ball that was too full for the cut.
Kamal c Ganguly b Harbhajan 4 (428 for 5) Top-edged a sweep to short fine leg
Razzaq caught and bowled Harbhajan 5 (446 for 6) Aimed to drive through cover and offered a return catch
Akmal b Harbhajan 28 (504 for 7) Attempted to cut a full-length delivery and was bowled
Sami run out (Gambhir/Karthik) 17 (565 for 8) Called for a sharp single to midwicket and was stranded by the time he was turned down
Younis c Pathan b Harbhajan 267 (569 for 9) Aimed a massive swipe over midwicket and skied a catch to cover
Kaneria c Laxman b Harbhajan 0 (570 all out) Holed out to deep midwicket first ball
Chandrahas Choudhury is staff writer with Wisden Asia Cricket