India v Pakistan, 3rd Test, Bangalore, 4th day December 11, 2007

We need to take wickets early: Lawson



Geoff Lawson: "If we get [a target] around 320 or so in some 68 overs, we will be chasing" © AFP

Unless the Pakistan bowlers produce something spectacular on an unhelpful pitch on the final morning, or India make the unlikely move of setting a sporting target, the third Test is headed for a draw. India lead by 220 runs with eight wickets in hand and will need to bat out time on Wednesday to secure the series 1-0.

Pakistan are in little danger of losing this Test but their chances of a win to level the series are remote. Given how the pitch is playing, they may have to depend on an Indian declaration to push for a victory but Lawson said that that was Plan B. Plan A was to try and bowl them out.

"We need to take them [Indian wickets] as early as possible and without giving much away. We are going to go there and try to take wickets and if India want to declare and set us a target, then we have to do the chasing, and that is the plan for tomorrow."

India began their second innings with a lead of 89 but there was a flutter of excitement in the Pakistan camp after Shoaib Akhtar bowled Gautam Gambhir with a slower ball and Yasir Arafat trapped Wasim Jaffer leg-before with a shooter. However, Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid consolidated from 26 for 2 and added 105 runs for the third wicket, extending India's lead. Pakistan's situation, one where they have nothing to lose and everything to gain by going for whatever target is set, could provide the deterrent for a declaration.

Lawson reflected that when he said Pakistan would go for it provided "they don't set a target that is ridiculous".

"If we get [a target] around 320 or so in some 68 overs, we will be chasing. The new ball become pretty aged once past the 15 overs or so. We have nothing to lose, we are behind in the series."

The fourth day began with Pakistan needing 58 runs to avoid the follow-on and Misbah-ul-Haq and Kamran Akmal achieved that objective without much trouble and Geoff Lawson, the Pakistan coach, said that getting past 426 was their first objective.

"Our first target was to avoid the follow-on and we did that," Lawson said. "This wicket surprised me with it playing well this afternoon as well. The odd ball kept low and we saw a couple of bouncers but the pitch is playing better and better, and that will come into play if we chase tomorrow."

George Binoy is an editorial assistant at Cricinfo