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Jaffer keeps India's victory hopes alive
Harish Kotian in Kolkata | December 03, 2007 11:33 IST
Last Updated: December 03, 2007 17:16 IST
Wasim Jaffer [Images] continued with his good form, scoring a half-century in the second innings, as India ended Day 4 in the second Test against Pakistan on 141 for 2, at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata on Monday.
Jaffer, who scored 202 in the first innings, again led the way with a brisk 56 as India extended their overall lead to 301 runs.
Earlier, Misbah-ul Haq finished unbeaten on a brilliant 161 as Pakistan avoided the follow-on before being dismissed for 456.
India lead the three-Test series 1-0 after the six-wicket victory in the first Test in Delhi.
Resuming on 358 for 6 in 104 overs, Pakistan played out a few quiet overs from the spinners before Misbah-ul Haq patience ran out. He hit Harbhajan Singh for a huge six over long-on in the 109th over of the innings to move to 115.
The Indian fielding again let them down, and this time it was Rahul Dravid [Images] who was the offender. Mohammad Sami [Images] (7) tried a wide swipe off a wide delivery from Anil Kumble, but got an edge which Dravid failed to hold.
Misbah cut a short delivery from Kumble to the point boundary to take Pakistan to 384 for six wickets. Interestingly, that boundary took the match aggregate to 1000 runs for the loss of just 12 wickets on just the fourth morning, which gives an idea of how flat the pitch is.
In the 118th over, umpire Billy Doctrove had to leave the field after feeling unwell. Play was held up for nearly five minutes as reserve umpire, India's Amiesh Saheba, replaced him.
The first hour of play had gone to script as far as Pakistan were concerned. Both Sami and Misbah had started off well, scoring 29 runs in 13 overs. Importantly, they did not lose their wickets.
Pakistan crossed the 400-mark in the 126th over when Misbah took a single on the leg side. India's frustrations started growing. The 50-run partnership between the two batsmen was brought up when Sami edged a ball between the slip and gully off Kumble.
Then, in the next over from Kumble, Sami slog-swept the veteran for a huge six over the midwicket fence to show how comfortable he was at the crease.
Misbah took a double off Sourav Ganguly in the 132nd over to move to 140 and help Pakistan avoid the follow-on. Now it remains to be seen whether a result is still possible at this stage what with the bowlers still finding it hard to claim wickets.
Misbah was not out on 140 as Pakistan reached 418 for six at lunch. They now trail India's first innings score of 616 for five declared by just 198 runs.
It's been a great comeback by the visitors after being reduced to 150 for 5 in the morning session on Day 3, which saw Kamran Akmal (119) and Misbah score centuries.
Misbah was Pakistan's hero. He and Mohammad Sami, who was not out on 24, added 61 runs for the sixth wicket to frustrate the Indian bowlers.
Still, it is India who have a chance of forcing a result if they can get the remaining four Pakistani batsmen out quickly. However, with the pitch so good for batting, one doubts if they will really have the time to scalp 14 Pakistani wickets.
Munaf was introduced in the fourth over after the lunch break and he hit Misbah on the backfoot with a quick in-swinging delivery. Television replays indicated that the ball could have hit the stumps, but West Indian umpire Billy Doctrove ruled him not out much to the disappointment of the Indian team and its fans.
Misbah scaled the 150-mark with a single to the square leg region off Kumble. The right-hander, who had 13 boundaries and a six in his 321-ball knock, celebrated by raising his bat to the appreciative Kolkata crowd.
The breakthrough came from the most unlikely source -- part-timer VVS Laxman. His flighted off-spin tempted Sami to have a go, but he ended up spooning a simple catch to Wasim Jaffer at mid-off. However, Sami had played his part to perfection, scoring 38 vital runs and adding 91 runs for the seventh wicket with Misbah.
Laxman was clearly quite thrilled to bag his second Test wicket and one wonders whether it was a masterstroke from Kumble or just plain luck?
That seemed to open the floodgates as Kumble dismissed Sohail Tanvir in his next over. The left-hander edged an outgoing delivery from the leg-spinner and was brilliantly caught by Dravid at first slip for 0.
Three overs later Harbhajan foxed Shoaib Akhtar [Images] (0) with a doosra which bounced a bit and the batsman gloved straight to Dravid at first slip.
Harbhajan finished off Pakistan's innings with the wicket of Danish Kaneria whom he bowled through the gate.
Pakistan were bowled out for 456 in 151.1 overs, thus conceding a first innings lead of 160 runs.
Misbah was left stranded on a brilliant 161, inclusive of 13 boundaries and a six, off 351 balls. His stay at the wicket stretched nearly nine hours.
India still don't seem to have a clue on how stop Misbah, who looks comfortable every time he steps out against their bowlers.
Once Laxman got the breakthrough, India did not take much time to polish off the tail. Harbhajan took two quick wickets to finish with creditable figures of five wickets for 122 runs in 45.5 overs. Kumble had figures of 3 for 122 in 47 overs.
India will need to score some quick runs in the session and half they bat today and get Pakistan in early tomorrow. Their batting, except for Dinesh Karthik [Images], looks in top form and they will hope to score runs quickly in their second innings to allow their bowlers enough time on the final day.
The pressure on Karthik was evident. The Chennai batsman showed tentative footwork at the start of his innings. He had already fallen thrice, caught behind to Shoaib and this time he was determined not to flash at wide deliveries outside the off-stump.
He got off the mark with a stylish boundary through the midwicket region off Shoaib in the third over off the innings.
Jaffer, who hit a double century, also started off confidently as he hit Tanvir through the fine leg region for boundaries in successive overs.
India went into the tea break at 20 for no loss in seven overs, with Jaffer not out 13 and Karthik unbeaten on 5.
Shoaib nearly accounted for Karthik in the second over after the break, but, luckily for the batsman, the edge flew wide past second slip to the boundary. Karthik's struggle to find the middle of bat continued. At the other end, Jaffer was having it really easy, hitting delightful boundaries on either side of the wicket to carry on from where he left in the first innings. He hit two boundaries off Sami in the 16th over to signal India's intentions of going for quick runs.
Karthik then decided to take on leg-spinner Danish Kaneria as he lofted two successive boundaries over the cover region to move to 28. He attempted to slog-sweep Kaneria over the midwicket fence but ended up giving Misbah a simple catch.
The youngster now faces a few anxious days before the third Test to find out if he will get another opportunity to prove himself. Also, it remains to be seen whether the selectors will pick him for the Australia tour.
Karthik walked back disappointed, but out came Mahendra Singh Dhoni to a huge cheer from the Eden Gardens crowd. India's strategy was clear: attack the Pakistan bowlers and look to score as many runs as possible before stumps.
Jaffer continued his fine form with the bat when he completed his half-century with a single off Kaneria. The crowd rose in unison to salute the opener. But he didn't last long as he was bowled by Kaneria for 56.
Jaffer, who hit eight boundaries in his 75-ball knock, tried to slog-sweep against the turn but missed the ball and was bowled.
Sourav Ganguly was elevated in the batting order ahead of Sachin Tendulkar [Images] to the delight of local fans. However, both Ganguly and Dhoni did not go on an all-out attack but instead played with a degree caution.
Sourav, on 8, was dropped by Shoaib as the left-hander tried to loft Kaneria over the long-off region. The ball was going straight to Shoaib, who stretched his hands out but failed to hold it.
India reached 124 for 2 after 30 overs for an overall lead of 284 runs. With 12 overs remaining in the day, the question was how much more India could get before close.
Ganguly and Dhoni held out bravely against the pace of Shoaib in fading light in a bid to score fast. In fact, in the 35th over, Ganguly gave himself room and crashed the fast bowler through the cover region for a boundary. The fielder seemed to have missed the shot as the light was quite bad in the middle.
However, it was not long before play ended few early because of bad light.
India were 141 for 2 in 36 overs. Dhoni was unbeaten on 28, while Ganguly remained not out on 24 having added 46 runs for the third wicket.
India's overall lead is now 301 runs. With 90 overs to play on the final day, it remains to be seen whether they will bat a few overs on the morrow or play it safe and not risk the option of giving Pakistan a gettable target on such a good pitch.