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Ganguly, Laxman tons give India handsome total
Harish Kotian in Kolkata | December 01, 2007 11:29 IST
Last Updated: December 01, 2007 17:00 IST
Vangipurappu Laxman emerged India's third centurion in the second Test against Pakistan, after Wasim Jaffer and Sourav Ganguly [Images], as the hosts put up an imposing 616 for 5 declared in their first innings on the second day at the Eden Gardens on Saturday.
Laxman scored an unbeaten 112 after Sourav Ganguly consolidated on Wasim Jaffer's 201 with a magnificent 102, his first century on home ground.
In reply, Pakistan were 50 for 1 in 16 overs at stumps, still trailing India's first innings score by 566 runs. Yasir Hameed [Images] was the batsman out, dismissed leg before wicket by Anil Kumble [Images] for 21.
Earlier, Jaffer notched his second double century in Tests before he was caught behind off Sohail Tanvir. The Mumbai opener, who batted for nearly six-and-half hours, hit 34 boundaries in his 274-ball knock to lead India's charge.
Ganguly and Laxman also made most of batting-friendly conditions at the Eden Gardens and registered their first centuries against Pakistan.
India lead the three-Test series 1-0, having won the first Test in Delhi by six wickets..
Wasim Jaffer started off the second day in some style, smashing Shoaib Akhtar [Images] through the cover region for a boundary off the third ball he faced to move to 196.
Then three balls later, he guided a ball through the gully region to bring up his double century. His second double century in Tests took 261 deliveries and included 34 cracking boundaries all over the Eden Gardens.
He becomes the third double centurion at the venue after team mate VVS Laxman (281) in 2000-01 and former West Indies [Images] batsman Rohan Kanhai (256) in 1958-59.
Sourav Ganguly also got off the mark on the second day in style with a sweetly-timed boundary through the covers that sent the crowd into raptures.
Sohail Tanvir came on to bowl and he immediately struck with his first delivery of the day -- the big wicket of Jaffer. The Mumbai opener edged an outgoing delivery from the left-armer and was caught behind for a fantastic knock of 202. He stayed at the wicket for around six-and-half hours, hitting 34 boundaries in his 274-ball knock, and single-handedly made a mockery of the Pakistan attack.
The fourth-wicket partnership between Jaffer and Ganguly yielded 62 runs in 15.4 overs before India were reduced to 375 for 4 in the 92nd of the day.
Laxman walked out to a huge reception from the Kolkata crowd and he immediately added to their delight. The stylish Hyderabadi batsman got his first runs courtesy a straight boundary off Tanvir and it was clear that Pakistan were in for another long day.
He hit Shoaib Akhtar for two consecutive boundaries to bring up India's 400 in the 99th over.
Runs continued to pour as seven boundaries were hit in the space of three overs, including four in a single over from Tanvir. Laxman was off to a flier, with 26 in 30 deliveries including six boundaries as India raced to 417 for 4 in 100 overs, their highest total against Pakistan at the Eden Gardens.
In the following over, Ganguly completed his half-century with a boundary to the fine leg region. The left-hander hit seven boundaries in 72 deliveries to reach the landmark, much to the delight of his fans.
At lunch on the second day, India had scored a mammoth 449 for 4 in 109 overs, having added 97 runs in the session.
For the fourth straight session, India dominated with the bat while losing only a wicket in the process. The crowd may have expected Jaffer to carry on after his double century, but he was dismissed by a good delivery from Tanvir.
However, local hero Ganguly and Laxman kept them entertained with an array of shots, as they added 74 runs for the fifth wicket. The left-hander was unbeaten on 62 from 98 deliveries, inclusive of nine boundaries, while Laxman was not out on 41 from 55 deliveries, with seven boundaries.
The Pakistani bowling attack once again lacked the killer instinct with Shoaib bowling just five overs in the session. Tanvir, though, bowled a good spell in the middle but got very little support from the other end.
India's run rate in the innings was quite amazing as they scored at more than four runs per over. They will hope to continue their charge after lunch and look to post a huge first innings score.
Shoaib bowled his best delivery of the match and got Ganguly (67) to fend the rising ball in the 113th over of the innings. The ball just evaded the slip fielder and went to the boundary as the former India captain registered his highest score at the Eden Gardens.
The Pakistan pacer then bowled a similar delivery at Laxman in his next over which the right-hander also did well to keep down and away from the fielders.
Laxman completed his half-century with a single to long-on off Danish Kaneria in the 116th over of the innings. He took 80 deliveries to post his fifty, which was studded with eight boundaries.
After a few quiet overs at the start of the session, India lifted their run-rate again with a flurry of boundaries. No tactics worked for Pakistan, including bowling a negative line round the wickets, as the crowd enjoyed the run-feast in the afternoon sun.
Both Laxman and Ganguly kept racing with each other towards respective hundreds as India reached the 500-run mark when Laxman glanced Sami through fine leg for a boundary in the 123rd over.
Ganguly creamed Sami through the cover region to move into the nineties and then hit Salman Butt [Images] through mid-off to move to 97.
The whole of Eden Gardens erupted in unison as Ganguly approached his century. The chants of "Dada, Dada" filled the stadium as they counted every run he scored therafter.
The left-hander soon completed his first century on home ground with a single through the off-side, sending the crowd into wild celebrations.
Playing in probably what could be his last Test at home, Ganguly brought up his century off 144 deliveries, hitting 14 boundaries, in the 127th over of the innings.
He fell three overs later when he tried to attack part-timer Salman Butt. He charged down the wicket and hit Butt straight, but could only loft it to the fielder at the long-off boundary.
However, the veteran batsman had done his job, playing a top-class knock of 102. He hit 14 boundaries in his 156-ball knock, adding 163 runs for the fifth wicket with Laxman.
When India's total reached 540 for 5, they registered their highest-ever total against Pakistan on Indian soil, beating 539 for 9 at Chennai in 1960-61.
The wicket of Ganguly slowed down India's progress as they seemed intent on playing for tea. Laxman was understandably coasting towards his century, but Dhoni was content playing the waiting game.
The session was dream come true for every Ganguly fan as they saw the left-hander post his first century on home tury..
At the tea break, India were 552 for 5 in 139 overs, having lost just one wicket in the session.
Laxman was cruising towards his first Test century against Pakistan, unbeaten on 91 at the break. He hit 14 boundaries in 133 deliveries. At the other end, Dhoni was unbeaten on 9 from 44 deliveries.
India may now just look to bat another hour and cross the 600-run mark before their bowlers have a real go at the Pakistani batsmen in the last hour and try to take a few early wickets.
Dhoni took a single on the leg-side as the Indian total reached 555 for 5 in the 141st over. With a wicket falling in each of the five sessions, all numerical sequences - 111-1, 222-2, 333-3, 444-4 and 555-5 were witnessed during the innings.
Laxman completed his century in the seventh over after the break with a single on the leg side off Shoaib. It took the elegant right-hander 158 deliveries to post his first century against Pakistan and it included 14 boundaries.
Laxman was involved in a bizarre moment in the 148th over when he was initially ruled out stumped by the third umpire, only to be given not out a few seconds later.
India reached 600 for 5 in the 152nd over, which incidentally was Kaneria's 50th over of the innings.
It was a one-sided affair as far as the Indian batsmen were concerned. They clobbered 88 boundaries and a six, and always maintained a scoring rate of more than four runs per over.
Shoaib's poor fitness did affect the Pakistan team a great deal as he bowled just nine overs in the opening day, but recovered a bit today to bowl another 15 overs. Overall, though, he failed to make an impact on the Indian batsmen, conceding 84 runs in 24 overs without taking any wicket.
Left-arm seamer Tanvir tried every trick in his bag, including bowling a few overs of spin, but ended up giving away a lot of runs and finished with two for 166 in 39 overs. Kaneria bowled the majority of overs for figures of 2 for 194 in 50 overs.
Pakistan were determined not to let the huge score daunt them. Yasir Hameed started off with a couple of boundaries off Munaf Patel [Images] in the second over of the innings.
India then received a big blow when Zaheer Khan [Images] walked off the field after bowling just 1.2 overs. There seemed to be some problem with his right leg as he returned to the pavilion and Harbhajan Singh [Images] took over.
Munaf Patel failed to make an impact and was promptly taken off from the attack after giving away 22 runs in his first three overs.
Captain Anil Kumble replaced him and immediately struck, claiming the wicket of Hameed off his fifth delivery.
Hameed, who made 21, was trapped leg before wicket, struck on the pads by a top-spinner from Kumble that caught him in front of the stumps.
Pakistan avoided any further setbacks as they reached 50 for 1 at close.
At stumps, Butt was unbeaten on 26 from 55 deliveries, with four boundaries, while captain Younis Khan was not out on 3.
For India, losing Zaheer so early was surely a big blow. One hopes the injury is not serious and he will be available to bowl on the third day. But even if he can't take the field it won't matter since it is the spin duo of Harbhajan Singh and Kumble that will be expected to bowl majority of the overs.
The pitch holds no terrors at all and Pakistan's batsmen will have to take cue from the Indian batsmen and be patient and play a big knock.