M A I N   N E W S

Dravid, Kaif conquer Lahore
M.R. Mishra

Pakistani captain Inzamam-ul Haq hits a shot as Indian wicketkeeper Rahul Dravid looks on
Pakistani captain Inzamam-ul Haq hits a shot as Indian wicketkeeper Rahul Dravid looks on during the fourth ODI in Lahore on Sunday.
— Reuters photo 

A girl applies colours on the face of Indian supporters outside the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore
A girl applies colours on the face of Indian supporters outside the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore on Sunday. — PTI photo

Lahore, March 21
Rahul Dravid ‘The Wall’ stood among the ruins of India’s innings along with master craftsman Mohammad Kaif to take their team to an incredible win and square the series against Pakistan 2-2 before thousands of delirious Indian supporters here tonight.

The Indian vice-captain lived upto his growing reputation as one of the world’s top batsmen by hitting an unbeaten 76 and combining with Kaif who contributed an unbeaten 71 to their unfinished 132-run partnership that enabled India to overtake Pakistan’s 293 for nine. India scored 294 for five, having been 94 for four at one stage and emerged winners by five wickets to set the stage for an exciting decider here on Wednesday.

As Kaif hit the winning run at the floodlit Gaddafi Stadium, some 8,000 Indian fans started dancing in the stands carrying the tri-colour with sporting Pakistani joining in cheering the two Indian heroes who deftly ensured that their side, down 1-2, will battle it out for honours in the fifth and final match three days later.

In the run-chase after Pakistan had notched up 293, thanks to a brilliant 123 by skipper Inzamam-ul Haq, the top guns such as Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, VVS Laxman and captain Sourav Ganguly, all fell before India had reached 100. But neither the Indian supporters in the stands nor Dravid and Kaif ever gave up hope and in the end it was a comfortable and sweet victory for the victory.

The Indians suffered a huge jolt early in the run chase when batting maestro Sachin Tendulkar (7) returned to the pavilion falling prey to tearaway fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar.

Tendulkar inside edged an express delivery from Akhtar and Moin Khan held on to a smart catch behind the wickets, much to the jubilation of a packed home crowd.

The stylish VVS Laxman (20), who joined the action after Tendulkar’s dismissal, appeared a trifle tentative in the initial stages of his innings and could have been out without opening his account when he was caught by Inzamam off a no-ball from paceman Shabbir Ahmed.

After getting his eye in Laxman gave glimpses of his Australian form with a couple of trademark drives while his partner Virender Sehwag played with the customary flourish at the other end.

The elegant Hyderabad batsman first produced a glorious boundary off Akhtar and then slammed two consecutive boundaries off Shabbir to raise hopes of a spirited Indian fightback.

The Indian total raced to 69 by the ninth over before Akhtar struck for his team again by removing Laxman with a gem of a delivery, dislodging his stumps with a ball that came in sharply.

Mohammad Sami, who was introduced into the attack in the 10th over in place of Akhtar, jolted the visitors in his first over by getting rid of the dangerous Sehwag for a 29-ball 26.

Sehwag was done in by a ball that rose awkwardly from a good length and managed to edge the ball to Younis Khan at first slip to reduce the tourists to 75 for three.

Captain Sourav Ganguly, who has not managed a big score for a long time, seemed to be in fine nick and played some attractive shots during his brief stay at the crease, a six over third man off Sami being a class act.

But the left hander could not carry on for long as he edged an outgoing delivery from Shabbir to Moin Khan behind the wickets for 21 which came off just 15 balls.

The dismissal of Ganguly served as a tonic for the hosts who tried to put more pressure on the two batsmen at the middle — Rahul Dravid and Yuvraj Singh — by bringing back Akhtar for his second spell.

But both Dravid and Yuvraj not only saw Akhtar off but also collected some runs in his second spell to bring India back into the game.

Yuvraj was the more aggressive of the two batsmen as he unleashed a barrage of shots, which included two flowing cover drives to the boundary off a tired Akhtar.

The pair added 68 runs for the fifth wicket before Yuvraj (36 off 35 balls) was caught by a diving Yousuf Youhana barely a few inches above the ground with Sami being the bowler.

It was left to the last recognised pair of Dravid and Kaif to put the Indian run chase on track again and the duo responded to the challenge with a tremendous show of batsmanship. They maintained the brisk run-rate without taking too many risks and were also quite prompt to despatch the loose deliveries to the fence.

With their sixth wicket partnership assuming dangerous proportions, Pakistani captain tried everything to end their association which eventually took the team to the target.

Earlier, electing to bat, Pakistan rode on a brilliant century by captain Inzamam to post a healthy 293 for nine in their allotted 50 overs after a fairly slow start which saw the home team lose two wickets by the tenth over.



Hameed st Dravid b Kartik 45

Afridi c Yuvraj b Pathan 3

Youhana lbw b Pathan 9

Inzamam b Balaji 123

Younis c Pathan b Kartik 36

Razzaq c Kaif b Tendulkar 32

Moin b Balaji 0

Malik c Kaif b Zaheer 13

Akhtar b Zaheer 2

Sami not out 0

Ahmed not out 0

Extras (b-10, lb-9, w-6, nb-5) 30

Total (for 9 wkts, 50 overs) 293

Fall of wickets: 1-8, 2-39, 3-89, 4-194, 5-264, 6-264, 7-284, 8-290, 9-292.

Bowling: Pathan 10-1-53-2, Balaji 10-0-64-2, Zaheer Khan 10-0-43-2, Kartik 10-1-48-2, Tendulkar 8-0-48-1, Yuvraj Singh 2-0-18-0.


Sehwag c Younis b Sami 26

Tendulkar c Moin b Akhtar 7

Laxman b Akhtar 20

Ganguly c Moin b Razzak 21

Dravid not out 76

Yuvraj c Youhana b Sami 36

Kaif not out 71

Extras (Ib-9, w-19, nb-9) 37

Total (for 5 wkts in 45 overs) 294

Fall of wickets: 1/34, 2/69, 3/75, 4/94, 5/162

Bowling: Shoaib Akhtar 9-1-63-2, Shabbir Ahmed 7-0-62-0, Md Sami 10-0-50-2, Abdul Razzak 7-0-42-1, Shoaib Malik 7-0-38-0, Shahid Afridi 5-03-0. — PTI


Fantastic effort by Dravid, Kaif: Ganguly

Lahore, March 21
Captain Sourav Ganguly heaped praise on his deputy Rahul Dravid and Mohammad Kaif after the duo played a crucial role in India’s spirited five-wicket victory against Pakistan here today.

Ganguly said he was a “big fan of Kaif” while Dravid also praised the middle-order batsman saying the youngster “brings a lot to the team” with his electric fielding and steady batting in the middle order.

“It was a fantastic effort by Dravid and Kaif. I am a big fan of Kaif. He does a great job coming in at number seven which is a difficult position to bat at in one-dayers,” Ganguly said after India’s series-levelling win.

Dravid and Kaif shared a record 132-run partnership for the unbroken sixth wicket as India recovered from 94 for four to canter to victory with five overs to spare.

Dravid also shared a vital 68-run stand with Yuvraj Singh before Kaif joined him at the crease.

“Yuvi (Yuvraj Singh) played really very well, there was no point in asking him to stop playing those shots. And then Kaif came along and batted with great temperament,” Dravid said.

“Kaif brings a lot to the team with his brilliant fielding and matured batting. It is always nice to have such a player in the team,” he said.

Pakistan skipper Inzamam-ul Haq, declared man-of-the-match for scoring his second century of the tournament only to end on the losing side once more, said his bowlers let the team down.

Pakistan conceded 37 extras, including 19 wides and nine no-balls, which undid the initial good work of Shoaib Akhtar who ripped through the Indian top order.

“Our bowlers did not bowl the right line and length. We have been working a lot on containing the extra deliveries but we have not had the result.

“The bowlers are working hard but unfortunately they lose their temperament when playing under pressure,” Inzamam said. — PTI


PM congratulates Indian team

New Delhi: Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee tonight congratulated the Indian cricket team for its wonderful five-wicket victory against Pakistan in the fourth one-day international match in Lahore conveying to skipper Saurav Ganguly that “you have won the heart as well as the match.”

“Aappne dil bhi jita aur match bhi jita” Vajpayee told Ganguly over telephone. He also congratulated Pakistan captain Inzamam ul-Huq for his great century. — PTI

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