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The Bulletin by Chandrahas Choudhury
March 27, 2005
India 449 (Sehwag 201, Laxman 79*, Kaneria 5-127) and 25 for 0 need 358 more runs to beat Pakistan 261 for 2 (Younis 84*, Hameed 76, Afridi 58) and 570
Scorecard and ball-by-ball commentary
How they were out
Pakistan made a concerted push for a series-equalling victory on the fourth day of the Bangalore Test, bowling, batting, and then bowling again in an attempt to speed the game towards its conclusion. Pakistan first bowled India out for 449, getting a lead of 121, then three of their batsmen rattled up half-centuries as they put up 261 for 2 to extend that lead to 382, and Inzamam-ul-Haq finally inserted India back in for six overs before stumps. Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir managed to see the day out, leaving Pakistan a minimum of 90 overs on the morrow in which to try and bowl India out.
Pakistan would have left themselves more time to bowl at the Indian batsmen in the evening had they been able to capitalise on a near-perfect start to the morning session that yielded them three quick wickets and left India tottering at 396 for 9. But VVS Laxman, having lost three tailend partners to the scorching pace of Mohammad Sami and clever variations of Danish Kaneria, finally found some support in the form of last man Anil Kumble. Laxman and Kumble detained Pakistan for 19 overs, added 53 runs for the last wicket, and extended the Indian innings beyond lunch.
Shahid Afridi was the man who finally brought an end to the Indian innings, bowling Kumble with his superfast change-of-pace ball. Afridi then padded up and emerged with Yasir Hameed, and proceeded to make up for lost time by lashing a half-century off just 26 balls, the fastest by a Pakistani batsman in Tests, and the joint second-fastest overall. Irfan Pathan and Laksmipathy Balaji had no answer to Afridi's belligerence, and Pathan's attempt to bounce Afridi only resulted in the fielder at deep square leg having to retrieve the ball from the boundary several times. Pathan's woes continued when he palmed an Afridi hit over the boundary for six, giving the batsman his fifty. It was electric stuff, and Pakistan were back in the hunt.
Sourav Ganguly had to resort to the legspin of Sachin Tendulkar to try and quell Afridi, and Tendulkar, bowling from round the wicket with the legside boundary manned as if to stop an invading army, soon had Afridi stumped for 58 (91 for 1). Indeed, after having sped quickly out of the blocks, Pakistan found themselves in marshy territory for a while against the leg-stump line of Tendulkar and Anil Kumble, and at one stage looked to be taking up too much time.
But Younis Khan, who could do no wrong in this match, batted brilliantly once again to add 84 not out to his first-innings 267. With so many fielders on the leg side, Younis spent the better part of his innings improvising, mostly with excellent reverse-sweeps. After being reverse-swept several times, Kumble was not amused when Younis suddenly changed his stance and the grip on the bat and clubbed him over the cover fielder, as if he were a left-handed batsman, for a boundary. Kumble's one consolation was the wicket of Yasir Hameed for 78 (183 for 2), his only wicket of the match.
Pakistan would have dearly loved at one least wicket before close of play, and there is every reason to believe that Inzamam would have done somersaults across the field had one of his opening bowlers managed to get Sehwag out. Indeed Sami, who has bowled his heart out in this game, did come close, producing a nasty lifter that Sehwag fended off with his gloves, but the ball just fell short of gully.
Even so, there was much to commend about Pakistan's effort, the dedication and resolve in the ranks being symbolised by Sami, who bowled unchanged for ninety minutes in the morning; the intelligence by Younis, who batted inventively, and by Inzamam, who had to have his thinking cap on all day; and the raw aggression by Afridi, who has had a real impact on the side since being drafted in at Kolkata. Even if they cannot force a result tomorrow, there are still many things of value that Pakistan will take away with them from this series.
Pathan c Youhana b Sami 5 (386 for 7) Tried to cut a short ball over point but couldn't clear the fielder.
Harbhajan c Razzaq b Kaneria (388 for 8) A massive swipe at a legbreak ended in the hands of mid-on.
Balaji c Akmal b Kaneria 2 (396 for 9) Swung across the line at Kaneria and was adjudged to have got a thin bottom edge.
Kumble b Afridi 22 (449 for 9) Beaten all ends up by a faster ball.
Afridi stumped Karthik b Tendulkar 58 (91 for 1) Charged down the track, missed, and was stumped by yards.
Hameed lbw Kumble 78 (183 for 2) Caught on the crease by an incoming delivery.
Chandrahas Choudhury is staff writer with Wisden Asia Cricket.
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