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The Bulletin by Chandrahas Choudhury
March 28, 2005
Pakistan 570 (Younis 267, Inzamam 184, Harbhajan 6-152) and 261 for 2 dec (Younis 84*, Hameed 76, Afridi 58) beat India 449 (Sehwag 201, Laxman 79*, Kaneria 5-127) and 214 (Gambhir 52, Afridi 3-13) by 168 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball commentary
How they were out
On a thrilling final day that went all the way down to the wire, Pakistan defied the odds at Bangalore and pulled off a magnificent series-levelling victory, taking all ten Indian wickets - the last one falling with just six overs left in the day - and winning by 168 runs. Shahid Afridi was the star performer with the ball for Pakistan, taking three middle-order wickets for 13, but every member of the team played his part in a famous victory.
It was Pakistan's second remarkable fifth-day effort of the series, after the staunch resistance offered by Kamran Akmal and Abdul Razzaq at Mohali, and the 1-1 result was just reward for the fighting qualities displayed by Pakistan all series. It is a result that is likely to have a far-reaching impact on Pakistani cricket.
A draw was still the most likely result when the day began, with Pakistan not appearing to have the ammunition to bowl the entire Indian line-up out in 90 overs. And when India went to lunch at 103 for 1, they were comfortably placed to save the game. But Pakistan struck just after lunch, claiming the wicket of Gautam Gambhir for 52 (108 for 2). And then Arshad Khan, recalled to the team for this series after more than four years out of Test cricket, claimed the most important wicket of his career, having Rahul Dravid snapped up at silly point (118 for 3).
All this while Afridi, who produced an incendiary half-century yesterday to set up the declaration for Pakistan, had been straining at the bit, firing in his mixture of legbreaks, offbreaks and topspinners and from time to time advertising his impatience with these subtleties with a faster ball that made Akmal wince with pain every time it beat the bat.
Now he struck two decisive blows to break open the Indian batting, trapping VVS Laxman in front with a quick skidding delivery (127 for 4), and then comprehensively bowling Sourav Ganguly with a breakback that beat Ganguly's optimistic drive (135 for 5). Ganguly, stunned, hung around the crease for quite a while, as if wishing to turn time back one ball and not play the same stroke this time around.
India's hopes now rested on Sachin Tendulkar, the last man left from the top six, and for a while Tendulkar batted magisterially. Neither Afridi's variations, nor the varied words he let the batsman hear after each ball, seemed to trouble him, and he struck majestic poses in defence, offering a dead bat to virtually everything. But almost on the stroke of tea Mohammad Sami surprised Tendulkar with a short ball that he fended off his face, and the heart of every man on the field was in his mouth as Asim Kamal at short leg reached for the ball, seemed to pouch it in one hand, and then juggled it and spilled the chance.
Pakistan must have gone into tea with a sinking feeling in their hearts, but on resumption their spirits seemed to have flagged not one jot, and Sami quickly struck again by uprooting Dinesh Karthik's offstump with a full inswinger (164 for 6).
But it was in the next over that Pakistan struck the killer blow, Afridi getting one to lift on Tendulkar and loop to short leg off the inside edge. This time Kamal made no mistake (164 for 7).
If India succeeded into taking the game as far into the evening as they did, it was because of some staunch resistance from Anil Kumble, who rounded off a wonderful series with the bat - he was dismissed just once in five innings - by making an unbeaten 37. Kumble managed to play out nine overs with Irfan Pathan and another five overs with Harbhajan Singh, and Pakistan were just beginning to worry again after he saw out another five overs with Lakshmipathy Balaji when Balaji padded up to Danish Kaneria and was adjudged lbw.
When all was over, it seemed remarkable that there was one stage in the morning when Virender Sehwag and Gambhir skipped along at four an over, and Sehwag seemed to be entertaining thoughts of actually going for the target. This remote possibility was shut out when he was run out in a misunderstanding with Gambhir, and after that, as has happened so often this season, the runs dried up completely and Pakistan were able to surround the batsmen with close fielders.
India could be justifiably criticised for going too much on the defensive after lunch and playing into Pakistan's hands, but it has to be granted that runs by this stage had ceased to matter - in fact, this was precisely for this reason that Inzamam-ul-Haq delayed his declaration yesterday and let his batsmen amass such a big lead.
The truth was that Pakistan wanted victory urgently, pushed for it on every day of this Test match, and finally - after five days of sapping, often nervewracking cricket, and with shadows falling on the final day - left the field with their heads held high.
Sehwag run out 38 (Razzaq) (82 for 1)
Responded to Gambhir's call for a single and was left stranded when his partner changed his mind.
Gambhir lbw Sami 52 (108 for 2)
Played across a full-length delivery from Sami.
Dravid c Younis b Arshad 16 (118 for 3)
Played forward to a sharp offbreak and was well-taken at silly point off pad and bat.
Laxman lbw Afridi 5 (127 for 4)
Was caught half-forward by a full delivery that skidded on.
Ganguly b Afridi 2 (135 for 5)
Was suckered into a drive at a wide ball that turned and bowled him through a yawning gate.
Karthik b Sami 9 (164 for 6)
Failed to bring his bat down on a late inswinger that sent his off-stump cartwheeling.
Tendulkar c Kamal b Afridi 16 (164 for 6)
Could not keep down a ball that kicked a little and was caught at short leg.
Pathan c Youhana b Arshad 0 (189 for 8)
Played the ball down defensively but it popped off his boot and was caught at silly point.
Harbhajan c Younis b Kaneria (210 for 9)
Jabbed at a legbreak and was caught at silly mid-off.
Balaji lbw Kaneria 0 (214 all out)
Offered no stroke to Kaneria and was given out, though the ball seemed to be heading past off stump.
Chandrahas Choudhury is staff writer with Wisden Asia Cricket.
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