Pace makes the difference
India won a marvelous toss but wasted the huge advantage of having Pakistan under their thumb at 39 for 6. Kamran Akmal's hundred and Shoaib Akhtar's defiance revived Pakistan to 245 before their bowlers rattled India. In allowing Pakistan to claw back into the match, India may have lost their best chance to win the series.
While India let Pakistan off the hook in their first innings, the Pakistani bowlers kept up the pressure throughout the Indian innings with incisive bowling. They pitched far more deliveries just short of a length and their faster pace made those deliveries much harder to play then the good length favoured by the Indian bowlers who bowled around 130 kmph. Shoaib Akhtar in particular used the bouncer effectively and even Abdul Razzaq lured Sourav Ganguly into a fatal hook off a short one. The Indian batsmen found Akhtar more than a handful and their not-in-control factor against him is a high 26%. The picture below shows the lengths bowled by the Pakistani and Indian fast bowlers in the first innings.
Just how helpful were the conditions on the first day? If Pakistan's not-in-control factor is any indicator, surviving the initial period of the second innings was remarkably easier than the first. Without the prodigious movement off the pitch, Imran Farhat and Salman Butt played shots with aplomb and cantered along at more than four runs per over. In the first innings the Pakistani batsmen missed, edged, or were beaten by 31 balls in the first 25 overs. That figure dropped to just 13 in the second innings. The picture below shows Pakistan's not-in-control factor for the first 25 overs of each innings.
George Binoy is editorial assistant of Cricinfo