M A I N   N E W S

Advantage India at Multan
Pak struggle to avoid follow-on
M.R. Mishra

Multan, March 30
 Sachin Tendulkar bowled Moin Khan through his legs off the day’s last ball to strengthen India’s grip over the first Test leaving Pakistan six wickets down for 364 and requiring 112 runs to avoid a follow on.

It was a toiling day for India’s bowlers on an unhelpful wicket, totally committed to batsmen, but they worked hard to leave the home side vulnerable at the end of third day’s play. If India are able to force a follow on, they will have a good chance to win a Test in Pakistan for the first time.

Tendulkar, who made an unbeaten 194 in India’s mammoth score of 675 for five before stand-in captain Rahul Dravid’s controversial declaration yesterday, bowled an amazing ‘wrong-un’ that came into the gutsy Pakistani wicketkeeper and went through his legs on to the stumps. The batting genius was thrilled as were his team-mates.

On a wicket on which Pakistan’s famed bowling line-up had failed, Irfan Pathan, Zaheer Khan, Lakshmipathy Balaji and Anil Kumble worked hard and were joined by Tendulkar in taking two Pakistani wickets in each of the three sessions.

The home side put up tough resistance, mainly through Yasir Hameed (91) and skipper Inzamam-ul Haq (77), who put on 160 runs for the third wicket, but the Indians struck at regular intervals to end the day on a highly satisfactory note.

At close, Abdul Razzaq was batting on 47 with only tailenders left for company.

The hosts could have been in a far more precarious position had the Indians held on to all the catches that came their way, particularly in the post-tea session when Dravid and Aakash Chopra were guilty of spilling chances.

Barring Hameed and Inzamam, none of the top order Pakistani batsmen could hang around for long though all of them got the starts on a day which saw more than 300 runs being scored like the two previous days.

Resuming at the overnight score of 42 for no loss, the home team lost left-handed openers Taufiq Umar (23) and Imran Farhat (38) in the first hour’s play to allow the visitors to take tight control of the proceedings.

The Pakistani opening pair had added 16 runs to their overnight tally when young Pathan provided the breakthrough by evicting Umar with an outgoing delivery with Dravid holding on to a smart catch at first slip.

Balaji, who replaced Zaheer Khan from the pavilion end, struck in his very first over by trapping Farhat plumb in front of the wicket, bringing an end to his 118-minute vigil at the crease.

The two quick wickets served as a tonic for the Indian bowlers who went flat out in a bid to put the home team under pressure.

But the in-form batsmen Hameed and Inzamam stonewalled the Indian charge by initially playing watchfully and then opening up to hit some elegant shots on both sides of the wicket to take the team to 137 for two at the lunch break.

The hosts were cruising along comfortably at 233 for two at one stage before the tourists bounced back by eviciting Inzamam and Hameed in quick succession just a few minutes before tea to keep their hopes alive of enforcing the follow on. The third-wicket pair stitched 160 runs before the experienced Kumble came to the rescue of his team by evicting the dangerous Inzamam much to the jubilation of his team-mates.

Inzamam went for a forward defensive shot but failed to keep the ball on the ground and Aakash Chopra took the catch at forward short leg. Umpire Simon Taufel had no hesitation in ruling the Pakistani captain out, cutting short his 153-minute vigil at the crease.

Hameed, who looked quite comfortable at the middle, joined his captain in the pavilion five overs later when he edged an away going delivery off Pathan and Parthiv Patel made no mistake behind the stumps. Hameed’s knock came off 151 balls and was laced with 14 boundaries.


India (Ist innings): 675 for 5 decl

Pakistan (Ist innings): Farhat lbw b Balaji 38

Umar c Dravid b Pathan 23

Hameed c Patel b Pathan 91

Haq c Chopra b Kumble 77

Youhana c Patel b Khan 35

Razzaq batting 47

Moin b Tendulkar 17

Extras: (lb-26, nb-10) 36

Total: (for 6 wkts, 106 overs) 364

Fall of wickets: 1-58, 2-73, 3-233, 4-243, 5-321, 6-364

Bowling: Zaheer Khan 22-6-71-1, Irfan Pathan 24-4-87-2, Anil Kumble 33-8-96-1, Laxmipathy Balaji 17-4-49-1, Virender Sehwag 2-0-11-0, Sachin Tendulkar 8-0-24-1.— PTI


Ganguly ruled out of second Test

Multan, March 30
Indian captain Saurav Ganguly has been ruled out of the second cricket Test against Pakistan and will return home after showing no signs of improvement on his back injury.

Ganguly, who hurt his back during fielding in the final one-day international, will return on April 1 to consult a specialist doctor back home in Kolkata.

The second Test begins in Lahore on April 5.

The Indian team management has requested the services of one-day middle order batsman Mohammad Kaif in place of Ganguly.

“Physio Andrew Leipus has been working with Ganguly for the past few days but he has shown no sign of improvement,” team manager and BCCI Joint Secretary Prof R S Shetty said here today.

“Therefore it has been decided that Ganguly will return home to consult a specialist (doctor) in his hometown.” — PTI

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