Third Test Match

India v Pakistan 2007-08

Richard Sydenham

At Bangalore, December 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 2007. Drawn. Toss: India. Test debut: Yasir Arafat.

India achieved their first Test series win at home against Pakistan since 1979-80, though the scoreline might have been more emphatic than 1-0 but for more obdurate batting from Misbah-ul-Haq and some conservative leadership from Kumble. India continued their second innings until midway into the afternoon session on the final day before setting Pakistan an impossible 374 to win or, more realistically, allowing themselves only 47 overs to bowl them out.

Kumble was clearly intent on consolidating the series win. However, just as Pakistan appeared to have eliminated any chance of defeat, they lost four wickets in as many overs and were thankful that bad light came to their rescue 11 overs early. Kumble showed his experience on the final afternoon by reverting to medium-pace, which he had bowled before his conversion to leg-spin, though off his usual run-up. This was designed purely to make life more difficult for the batsmen on a cracked surface offering little bounce, giving less time for them to adjust their strokes on what was otherwise a slow pitch. He claimed the first five wickets, before Yuvraj Singh added a further two on his birthday, and Kumble ultimately rued his belated declaration. Younis Khan again led Pakistan in the absence of Shoaib Malik, while Yasir Arafat was given a long-awaited Test debut in place of Sohail Tanvir. India, who were to start a four-Test series in Australia two weeks later, made four changes, with Tendulkar (knee), Dhoni (ankle), Patel (back) and Zaheer Khan (heel) making way for Gambhir, Pathan, Ishant Sharma and Yuvraj Singh, whose recall had been demanded from what seemed like all corners of India after several successful one-day displays.

As in the previous Test, bat dominated ball on a batsman-friendly surface that showed occasional uneven bounce from day three. Three quick wickets for Arafat reduced India to 61 for four on the first day, but after that the home side were always on top. Their recovery began with a fifthwicket partnership of 300 between Ganguly and Yuvraj, who scored remarkably quickly given the task facing him when he walked to the crease. In his first Test for 18 months, Yuvraj plundered 28 fours and a six from just 203 balls. It was his third Test hundred, all of them at Pakistan's expense. Ganguly, in his 99th Test, recorded his highest first-class score, batting for 518 minutes and hitting 30 fours and two sixes from 361 deliveries. Both batsmen exploited a weakened Pakistan bowling attack, which lost Shoaib Akhtar after lunch on the first day. He went to hospital for scans on an injury that was eventually diagnosed as merely back spasms, though he did not add to his ten overs until the second innings. A three-man frontline attack was treated mercilessly and Pathan - who would not be out of place at No. 6 or 7 in most teams - added further humiliation by scoring his first Test century on returning to the side after more than a year, reaching it with his fourth six. India improved their highest total at home to Pakistan for the second match running.

Pakistan batted resolutely to save the follow-on, although they were teetering at 288 for five after promising innings from Younis and Salman Butt, and were again grateful to Misbah-ul-Haq and Kamran Akmal. They put on 144, their second match-saving stand in consecutive Tests, and were separated only when a well-flighted delivery from Harbhajan Singh caused Akmal to miss his drive and step fractionally out of his crease. Misbah had survived a confident caught-behind appeal off Harbhajan Singh when on one; he went on to his second century in successive matches. Pakistan were also boosted by 76 extras, including 35 byes, beating the previous Test record of 71 conceded by West Indies against Pakistan at Georgetown in 1987-88. Sharma, only 19 and in his second Test, persevered impressively, extracting rare pace and bounce to take five wickets on a slow track.

Laxman retired hurt late on the final day after being struck on his left elbow by an Akhtar bouncer. This was Ranjan Madugalle's 100th Test match as referee.

Man of the Match: S. C. Ganguly. Man of the Series: S. C. Ganguly.

© John Wisden & Co.