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February 1, 2006
India's stumble towards their second-heaviest defeat - Australia had routed them by 342 runs at Nagpur in October 2004 - started in the very first over when Shoaib's fearsome pace induced the thinnest of edges from Dravid's bat. That set the stage for Asif, the 23-year-old whose accuracy and use of the seam at lively pace evoked the incomparable Glenn McGrath.
He got prodigious movement back to flummox the leaden-footed Virender Sehwag and leave India down for the count. Sachin Tendulkar, perhaps playing his final Test innings against Pakistan, then walked to the middle and appeared determined to go down swinging, playing two superb back-foot punches through the off side and a pull for four off Shoaib bowling at near-maximum pace. He and Laxman drove and nudged their way to lunch, swaying out of the way of some nasty bouncers, but soon after the interval, it all went pear-shaped. Again, it was Asif's brilliant use of the seam that did the damage, with Laxman undone by subtle movement into him and Tendulkar floored - literally - by one that kept slightly low to cannon into the middle of off stump.
Sourav Ganguly started with a couple of sublimely timed off-drives and with Yuvraj also driving and pulling like a dream, the runs came at a frenetic clip. Asif kept probing away, beating the bat regularly, while Shoaib came back for a fiery second spell where an edge from Yuvraj fell just short of Imran Farhat at second slip. With the match almost certainly lost, both batsmen played with great freedom as Pakistan set attacking fields. Yuvraj took just 45 balls for his half-century, and both he and Ganguly saw off the threat of Danish Kaneria with only the odd alarm.
Any hope of great escapes and miracles was however extinguished as soon as the players came back after tea, with Razzaq shaping one back onto Ganguly's pad. Having already taken three wickets in the first innings and made 135 runs, Razzaq made an even greater impression with his spell in the final session. Faisal Iqbal dropped a sitter at square leg with Yuvraj on 77, but Razzaq didn't let his shoulders droop, getting Mahendra Dhoni on the drive with some extra bounce and then having Irfan Pathan fend off a bouncer to gully.
Kaneria, who finally got a bowl in the 24th over of the second innings, then winkled out Anil Kumble and Zaheer Khan, before Razzaq capped a splendid allround display by having Yuvraj caught behind. By then, Yuvraj had let his stamp on proceedings with a second Test century, an innings of the highest class in a patently hopeless situation. He drove beautifully and pulled with power when the ball was pitched short, finishing with 19 fours and a six in an innings that stood out among the ruins of a famed batting line-up.
Before doing untold damage with the ball, Pakistan had exacerbated India's pain with the bat, piling up 88 runs from just 13.1 overs in the morning before the declaration came. Razzaq thumped his way to 90 before lofting Kumble down to Yuvraj at long-on, soon after Iqbal had departed, having stroked a wonderful 139 from just 220 balls.
Razzaq started the morning's carnage by slapping a Rudra Pratap Singh delivery past point, and then took 14 from an Pathan over that included a big six over long-on. Iqbal joined in the fun, pulling and flicking Rudra Pratap in another 14-run over. That prompted Dravid to turn to spin, but Razzaq's response was to smash Kumble over long-on for six. Tendulkar's introduction provoked a similarly violent reaction from Iqbal, who smacked him down to the sightscreen and over cover, before an effortless loft cleared the rope behind the bowler's head.
By the time he and Razzaq tried one biff too many, the damage had been done, leaving India with a Himalayan target to scale. With the exception of Yuvraj, no one even left base camp, and they can now reflect on a match where Pakistan finally produced the promised green-top and then pulverised them.
Faisal Iqbal c Tendulkar b Zaheer 139 (598 for 6)
Swiped one straight to the man at long-on
Abdul Razzaq c Yuvraj b Kumble 90 (599 for 7)
Heaved one to long-on
Rahul Dravid c Akmal b Shoaib 2 (8 for 1)
Undone by some away movement, thin edge behind the stumps
Virender Sehwag b Asif 4 (8 for 2)
Clueless about one that darted back sharply off the seam
VVS Laxman b Asif 21 (63 for 3) Expansive drive at thin air, ball moved back to take middle stump
Sachin Tendulkar b Asif 26 (74 for 4) Off stump knocked back by one that kept a touch low
Sourav Ganguly lbw Razzaq 37 (177 for 5) Trapped on the crease by one that shaped back
Mahendra Singh Dhoni c Farhat b Razzaq 18 (208 for 6) Attempt to force off the back foot, edged to second slip
Irfan Pathan c Iqbal b Razzaq 4 (216 for 7) Tried to Fend off a bouncer, caught at gully
Anil Kumble c Farhat b Kaneria 5 (231 for 8) Went for the big drive, edge brilliantly taken at full stretch from first slip
Zaheer Khan b Kaneria 10 (251 for 9) Chopped a googly on to his stumps
Yuvraj Singh c Akmal b Razzaq 122 (265 all out) Attempted pull flies off the edge and arm behind the stumps
Dileep Premachandran is features editor of CricinfoFeeds: Dileep Premachandran
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