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December 9, 2007
The last time Pakistan played here, Inzamam-ul-Haq's brilliance and Younis Khan's appetite for the long haul shut India out of a Test match. There was perfect symmetry here, only this time they were on the receiving end, with Yuvraj Singh reprising Inzamam's class and Sourav Ganguly batting on and on in the manner that Younis had back in 2005. By the time he was out for 239 on the stroke of tea, India had gone past 600, and thoughts of a series-levelling victory had long since ebbed away from the Pakistan camp. By stumps, they had whittled away 86 from the deficit, losing Yasir Hameed along the way.
Irfan Pathan added a scintillating maiden Test century just for good measure as an attack deprived of Shoaib Akhtar's pace struggled to make any impression. The three-man attack and part-timers toiled away without reward on a pitch where the slightest error was ruthlessly punished. A profusion of half-volleys and half-trackers was served up by bowlers ready for the knackers yard and Ganguly and Pathan cashed in happily during a 178-run partnership that really was the last straw.
With Bangalore's new metro system being built, most of the roads leading to Mahatma Gandhi Road, the city's main thoroughfare and adjacent to the stadium, are one-way. And it was a similar story out on the pitch as India piled on the runs and the punishment. Pathan, whose batting ability has never been in doubt, walked into a situation that was perfect for him. He cut and drove with immense power, taking time to loft the odd ball miles over the rope. At the other end, Ganguly eased to a first double-century in Tests, with the roof nearly coming off the Chinnaswamy Stadium as fervent cries of 'Dada, Dada' soared into the air.
He celebrated with a glorious straight drive off Arafat and both men then proceeded to treat Kaneria like a net bowler. When he dropped short, he was cut past the off-side field. When he gave it some air, the ball sailed out of sight, and when he pitched on the legs, he was swept away. After a point, Younis gave up and opted for Salman Butt and Hameed. To the batsmen, it made not the slightest difference, with the ball disappearing into the gaps and to the boundary as India exacted retribution for the events of March 2005.
The only man to miss out on the run-fest was Dinesh Karthik, caught behind off Arafat in the morning. He had been extremely fortunate not to be given out shouldering arms to Mohammad Sami, and Pakistan's sense of injustice had only grown when Ganguly square-drove and flicked Arafat for fours.
The end of that 66-run partnership may have given Pakistan a glimmer of hope, but Ganguly and Pathan extinguished it with batting as pitiless as seen in Sydney in 2004 and at The Oval earlier this year. Ganguly, whose effort surpassed Vinod Kambli's 227 as the highest by an Indian left-hander, fell going for the sweep and the only interest after tea was in whether Pathan would get the seven needed for his hundred.
Anil Kumble fell to a Kaneria googly and Harbhajan Singh was then cleaned up to give Yasir Arafat five for the innings. A nearly full stadium then held its collective breath as Ishant Sharma played out four balls to give Pathan the strike. He didn't need a second invitation. The first ball of Kaneria's over was cracked over wide long-on for six, and though he perished to a slog the next ball, resounding applause followed him all the way back to the pavilion.
Hameed and Butt survived some anxious moments against Pathan and Sharma with the new ball, as the pitch started to show signs of irregular bounce. Butt laced some beautiful drives on his way to another 50, but Hameed was once again outfoxed by Kumble. Younis was in the middle at the close, and it needed another monumental effort from him for Pakistan to salvage at least pride from a game that had been even more of a mismatch than the Mayweather-Hatton fight on Sunday morning.
Dileep Premachandran is an associate editor at CricinfoFeeds: Dileep Premachandran
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