India went into the third and final test against Pakistan with 4 changes to the team – Gambhir, Yuvraj Singh, Ishant Sharma and Irfan Pathan coming in the place of Tendulkar, Dhoni, Zaheer Khan and Munaf Patel, owing to injuries.
It is a well known fact that the Chinnaswamy stadium in Bangalore is not a great ground for India – especially when they are playing Pakistan in test cricket. I am sure Kumble, the Indian captain, would have been well aware of this when he won the toss and elected to bat first in his home ground, hoping for a huge score in the first innings to break the jinx. But by lunch, Kumble must have felt a bit of deja vu, when India had lost four wickets and were struggling at 64/4.
But he needn’t have worried. The next two sessions were a completely different story – both Yuvraj Singh, (who has been in good nick in the one dayers) and Saurav Ganguly (who was had a great comeback to test cricket) pummelled the bowling and added 300 runs for the fifth wicket. Yuvraj Singh was finally out just before stumps for 161. He also scored at a hectic pace of nearly 5 runs an over.
At stumps, Ganguly was on 125* with Karthik for company. India is now nicely placed at 365/5. It is a crucial game for Karthik, who happens to be the only batsman not amongst the runs for India in this series – it will be interesting to see how he plays tomorrow. Earlier Gautam Gambhir, who is the main contender for Karthik’s opening slot scored just 5 runs. Dravid’s poor form at his home ground continued when he was out for just 19.
For Pakistan – Yasir Arafat, the debutant had a good start to his test career as he took three quick wickets before lunch. Since then, the bowling has not been threatening and with Shoaib Akthar injured, Pakistan were struggling to take wickets and to keep the scoring rate down.
In a game where both teams seemed bent on surrendering the advantage back to the opposition, Pakistan did just that on the fourth day morning. They started the day at 212 for 5 with both Misbah and Kamran Akmal looking good, but handed the game back to India by being all out for 247. Of course credit should be given to Zaheer Khan for his wonderful spell in the morning. But Misbah and Sami committed Hara-kiri, giving their wickets to Ganguly, who surprisingly took the new ball in the middle of his over and got Misbah-ul-Haq’s wicket of the first ball. Sami, who had played patiently while Misbah was still at the crease then tried an all-mighty slog to give Ganguly his second wicket.
Kumble then decided to bowl the next over with the new ball and even before people could wonder why Zaheer wasn’t bowling, Kaneria ran himself out. Within a space of about 4 balls, Pakistan went from 243/7 to 247 all out, setting India a target of 203.
Shoaib Akthar was the main threat to India’s batting and he snared all three Indian wickets. Karthik failed in the match for the second time, but Jaffar and Dravid first steadied the innings and when they got out, it was the turn of Tendulkar and Ganguly to build another partnership. At stumps, India need another 32 runs to win and should be able to get it, unless something extremely out of the ordinary happens.
The highlight of fourth day’s play was Saurav Ganguly. If Laxman had silenced his critics in India’s first innings, it was the turn of Ganguly to do it today. He first took two wickets and then struck a fluent 48 of just 61 balls. Hopefully, he and Tendulkar will stay at the crease on day 5 to see India through to victory.
Posted in Test cricket
Tagged Akmal, Akthar, Dinesh Karthik, Ganguly, India vs Pakistan, Jaffar, Kaneria, Kumble, Laxman, Misbah-ul-Haq, Sami, Tendulkar
After day 3, the match is still evenly poised. It could be anyone’s game from here and the first session of play on day 4 could tilt the balance either way. Whatever the case, this match is bound to present a result and the losing team will look back at the game and wonder what could have been.
Each team seems to be keen on letting the other team back into the game. In the first innings, India had Pakistan on the ropes at 83-5 on day one, only to let them get back into the game and finish at 231. In India’s first innings, Pakistan had them at 93-5, but then let them claw the way back to finish at 276.
In their second innings, Pakistan started well and at one stage were 114 for the loss of just one wicket, and as it has happened so often in the game, surrendered the advantage to be 161 for 5. It was then India’s chance to let them off the hook again – Misbah-Ul-Haq and Kamran Akmal have added another 51 runs since and it remains to be seen whether there is another twist on the fourth day morning.
Some would say that India have the upper hand in the match with India well in sight of a first innings lead and with four wickets remaining. But in my opinion the match is quite evenly poised. Remember, India will have to bat last in this match and that will act against them.
A lot of things seem to be happening against the run of play. The first one was Misbah-ul-Haq’s dismissal. What a bizarre dismissal it was? He jumped up in the air to avoid the throw and although he was above the crease, he wasn’t grounded. Even Inzi, the uncrowned king of run outs (such as these ones: 1, 2) – or does that title belong to Steve Waugh? , would have been proud of this one 😉
And then there was Tendulkar’s run out. To start with, there was no second run. And as Tendulkar turned around, he slipped. In spite of that he kept going. By the time he decided to turn back, it was too late. Tendulkar is usually a good judge of runs but this must rank as one of his worst judgements.
But the key dismissal that went against the run of play was Rahul Dravid. He looked solid as ever, but got bowled by a gem from Tanvir. From being 71 for 1, India ended up at 93 for 5 in the space of about 6 overs! It was left to Laxman to once again mount another rear guard effort (this time in the company of Dhoni) to keep India in the game, but it remains to be seen how much of a lead India get to. IMHO, India need a lead of at least one hundred runs – which is unlikely, but not impossible at this stage. It all depends on captain Kumble and VVS Laxman.
Feb 16, 1999. Eden Gardens, Calcutta. Pakistan win the toss and choose to bat first. Third over – the first wicket falls. Fourth over – the second one falls and the procession continues till the 9th over when Pakistan are reeling at 26 for 6. Moin Khan then fights back in the company of Saleem Malik and Wasim Akram to put up a half decent total of 185. Pakistan later go on to win the match by 46 runs.
Jan 29, 2006. National Stadium, Karachi. India win the toss and put Pakistan in to bat. Ball No.4 – Wicket No. 1, Ball No. 5 – Wicket No. 2, Ball No. 6 – Wicket No. 3. Irfan gets a first over hatrick and Pakistan are 0 for 3. By the eleventh over Pakistan are reeling at 39 for 6, but Kamran Akmal, with some help from Abul Razzaq and Shoaib Akthar fight back and Pakistan end up scoring 245 in the first innings. They eventually end up winning the match by 341 runs!
Nov 22, 2007. Feroz Shah Kotla, New Delhi. Pakistan win the toss and elect to bat first. Not quite the sensational start as the previously mentioned games, but still Pakistan are in deep trouble at 83 for 5. Misbah-ul-Haq leads the fightback this time and at stumps Pakistan are 210 for 8….let off the hook again. What happens to the result this time remains to be seen.