Second Test Match

Pakistan v India

At Lahore, April 5, 6, 7, 8, 2004. Pakistan won by nine wickets. Toss: India.

A Test lit up brilliantly by youth on the opening day ran a brisk but predictable course, with Pakistan emerging the deserved winners early on the fourth afternoon. It not only levelled the series, but allowed them to get back at their voluble critics, particularly ex-players; Inzamam-ul-Haq dedicated much of his post-match press conference to making the point.

Pakistan made four changes, which worked a charm. The all-rounder Abdul Razzaq (back niggle) was replaced with Asim Kamal, a left-handed batsman who compiled an innings of character. Wicket-keeper Moin Khan (groin injury) was swapped with Kamran Akmal, who claimed six dismissals. Saqlain Mushtaq (who conceded 204 runs and played a daft shot at Multan) made way for the leg-spinner Danish Kaneria, who was effective against the lower order. And Shabbir Ahmed (shin pain) sat out for Umar Gul, whose first-day bowling set the game up for Pakistan. India brought in Agarkar for the injured Zaheer Khan.

The pitch, hidden from the media beforehand, showed its nature when Shoaib Akhtar's first ball of the match took Chopra's edge and squirted through for four; the last ball of that over hit Chopra on the shoulder. It was instantly evident that justifying Dravid's decision to bat would be hard work, particularly during the first session when there was moisture in the surface.

Even so, pace without guile, such as Shoaib and Mohammad Sami were dishing out, was a waste. When Gul came on in the 11th over, India were rattling along at six an over. Nine days short of his 20th birthday, Gul was a matchstick-thin seamer from Nawakheli, a village on the Afghan border and birthplace of two of history's greatest squash players, Jahangir and Jansher Khan. Young Gul's idol, however, was Narromine's Glenn McGrath. Though there was little of McGrath in his limby action - described by one observer as that of a flamingo - he showed similar command over line and length, with enough lateral movement for effect.

In a 12-over spell either side of lunch, Gul reaped a harvest that he may be hard-pressed to better: Sehwag, Tendulkar, Laxman, Dravid and Patel. Three were coerced into nicking, the other two lbw to in-swingers. Tendulkar's dismissal was his first in four Test innings in 2004, in which he had amassed a record 497. Gul's five wickets cost a mere 31, but he bowled no further in the first innings because of cramp; his 13 overs in the second left him with a back injury that ruled him out of the Third Test.

Gul's heroics gave 22-year-old Yuvraj Singh, entering at 94 for four, which quickly deteriorated to 147 for seven, a chance to expand his reputation for tackling crises from the one-day to the Test arena. He played a counter-attacking gem, reaching his maiden Test century in 110 balls, unfettered by the situation or the occasional swing-and-miss. Assisting Yuvraj was Pathan, the youngest of the day's young stars at 19 years five months. He made a conscientious 49 in front of his proud parents, who had travelled outside India, and by aeroplane, for the first time.

Pakistan's task was not just to overtake India's 287, but to build enough of a lead to put their batting under pressure second time around. Inzamam, with a dutiful 118, played the main role, sharing century stands with Imran Farhat and Yousuf Youhana. Farhat himself earned a fine hundred, his second in Tests, showing better judgment than usual outside off.

On the third morning, Pakistan lost four for 31, but Kamal shepherded the tail, particularly Shoaib, who hung about for an hour and a half, and extended the lead to 202. By the evening, the game was up for India. Chopra, Tendulkar and Laxman, bowled by a marvellous leg-cutter from Gul, all had their second failure of the match, while Dravid was run out by a fine direct hit from Farhat. It was only Dravid's third duck in 77 Tests, and he had not even faced a ball. India closed five down and still 53 behind. Sehwag remained, on a scintillating 86, but tried too hard to defend the following morning and fell for just four more. A raucous stand between Patel and Agarkar averted an innings defeat - though when the final wicket went Gul ran off the pitch, stumps in hand, before being reminded by his team-mates that they still had to bat again.

Like Pakistan in the last Test, the Indians felt aggrieved at the umpiring. They were particularly aggrieved by Steve Bucknor, who had not endeared himself to them on the tour of Australia; here he rejected several good lbw shouts by Kumble, and reported Patel for excessive appealing, which led to a fine. India's coach, John Wright, marched into the referee's cabin to vent his feelings on the second day.

But as Dravid pointed out, it was efficient batting and bowling, rather than lopsided umpiring, that explained why Pakistan had stormed back into the series.

© John Wisden & Co