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India grind out a healthy lead

India 447 for 6 (Sehwag 173, Tendulkar 94) lead Pakistan 312 by 135 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
How they were out

Virender Sehwag's thrilling 173 gave India the ideal platform to bat Pakistan out of this Test match, but those that followed him showed a strange reluctance to put the boot in, as Pakistan's bowlers - led most admirably by the tireless Danish Kaneria - fought to implement a damage-limitation plan. After an elongated first session produced 134 runs, 71 of them to Sehwag, India dawdled along for the rest of the day, adding only a further 129. All eyes were on Sachin Tendulkar, who got to within one big hit of a record-breaking 35th Test century before a loose stroke meant that the celebrations would have to be postponed to another day.

Tendulkar's was an innings in two parts. He had made just 8 when Rudi Koertzen reprieved him off Kaneria's bowling, but thereafter, he was in sublime touch until lunch, driving, cutting and finessing the ball with a fluency that evoked memories of his halcyon years. But after the break, the fluid strokeplay was replaced by circumspection and excessive caution. And once Sehwag, with whom he added 118 in just 171 balls, departed, he and Sourav Ganguly - in dire form - struggled even to work the ball off the square for long periods.

Besides their own lack of ambition, they were thwarted by the guile, variety and stomach for a fight that Kaneria displayed throughout the course of a marathon 32-over spell. Ganguly, usually so dismissive of slow bowling, scratched around painfully for a drab 21, while Tendulkar appeared content to tuck the bat behind the pad or tap away those deliveries that pitched in line. And when Kaneria went round the wicket, as Ashley Giles had done at Bangalore in December 2001, it gave the game of cat-and-mouse another dimension.

For today, though, Ganguly was certainly the mouse to Kaneria's cat, and a bat-pad catch to Salman Butt ended a miserable 74-ball struggle (382 for 4). Tendulkar, now joined by a subdued VVS Laxman, then eked his way into the nineties before the finest of paddle-sweeps - his first shot to the rope in 20 overs - took him to 94. But with Inzamam-ul-Haq finally opting for the new ball, 40 overs after it was due, that was as far as Tendulkar would get in attempting to go beyond the 34-ton stratosphere he now inhabits along with Sunil Gavaskar.

Rana Naved-ul-Hasan, subjected to fearful punishment by Sehwag, pitched one on off stump, and Tendulkar's waft went low to Asim Kamal's right in the gully. The near-capacity crowd was stunned into silence for a few seconds, before they roused themselves for the standing ovation which they had hoped would come a few minutes later.

Laxman stroked three classy fours off Naved as the sun descended from its lofty perch, but those were isolated splashes of colour in a grey afternoon canvas.

It had been so different in the morning. Sehwag had rapidly completed the formalities of a ninth Test century in only his 32nd match, when he cut a delivery past point off Naved. It had taken him just 129 balls, and included yet another moment of good fortune when an edge off Naved didn't carry to Younis Khan at slip.

In general, Pakistan bowled with far greater purpose and discipline early on, with Mohammad Sami especially impressive. Rahul Dravid could never recapture the form of yesterday, and moments after he had scampered the single that took him to 50, he slashed a Sami delivery to Kamal at gully (216 for 2).

It was Dravid's dismissal that served as a spur for Sehwag to pick apart the bowling once more. Naved was contemptuously swatted for two fours past point, and when the next ball was edged between the keeper and slip, Inzamam's broad shoulders dropped even more. And when the next one was clumsily squeezed out just short of a dozing forward short leg it merely reaffirmed his worst fears.

The pivotal moment, however, came when Kaneria, who had to wait 90 minutes to get a bowl, finally faced up to Tendulkar. The master announced his intent with a gorgeous cover-drive that sped to the fence, but was then flummoxed by a beautiful delivery that appeared to take a thick inside edge onto the pad before being grabbed by Kamal at silly point. Despite an impassioned appeal, Koertzen was unmoved.

The introduction of Abdul Razzaq, who bowled 17 straight overs either side of lunch, was the signal to accelerate, with Sehwag slamming an audacious low six off the first ball he bowled. While Sehwag focused on picking off Kaneria's offerings with consummate ease, Tendulkar concentrated his energies on Razzaq, stroking two glorious straight-drives, and a couple of magnificent off-drives.

A sweetly timed sweep for four off Kaneria took Sehwag to 150, and minutes later, another lofted sweep sailed over the head of Salman Butt, hopelessly out of position and flailing like a drowning man on the square-leg boundary. It was exhilarating stuff, until lunch induced a torpor that couldn't be shaken off.

How they were out:

Dravid c Kamal b Sami 50 (216 for 2)
Cut a ball that was too close to his body, for Asim Kamal to take a straightforward chance at gully.

Sehwag c Youhana b Razzaq 173 (334 for 3)
Mistimed a pull to deep mid-on.

Ganguly c Butt b Kaneria 21 (381 for 4)
Didn't read the one that turned away from him, which went off pad onto the splice, and then into the hands of silly point.

Tendulkar c Kamal b Naved-ul-Hasan 94 (417 for 5)
Played away from the body - sliced to gully where Kamal took a fine catch diving low to his right.

Karthik c Naved-ul-Hasan b Sami 6 (444 for 6)
A nothing shot that looped up to short square leg for the simplest of catches.

Dileep Premachandran is assistant editor of Cricinfo.