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Ganguly, Yuvraj rally India after Arafat strikes
Harish Kotian in Bangalore | December 08, 2007 11:55 IST
Last Updated: December 08, 2007 18:44 IST
Yuvraj smashed a magnificent 169, while Ganguly was unbeaten on a solid 125 as India posted 365 for 5 in 90 overs at the M Chinnaswamy stadium.
The duo put on 300 runs for the fifth wicket to rescue India from a precarious 61 for 4 at one stage in the morning session.
India lead the three-match series 1-0. They won the first Test in Delhi by six wickets, while the second Test in Kolkata ended in a draw.
India started with a brand new opening pair in Gautam Gambhir and Wasim Jaffer, leaving Dinesh Karthik [Images] to bat down the order. Since the Chennai youngster will also have to keep wickets in the absence of Mahendra Singh Dhoni, it was decided not to burden him with the opener's role.
For 26-year-old Gambhir it was a wonderful opportunity to make a mark after staging a comeback for the Test. He last played a Test in December 2005 against Sri Lanka [Images] and considering his recent form it was obvious he would drafted into the side.
However, he did not seize the opportunity and got out to a loose shot outside the off-stump. He was caught behind by wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal off Mohammad Sami [Images] for 5 in the eighth over.
Rahul Dravid walked out to a loud cheer from his home fans and started off in style, driving Sami through the cover for three runs. He got off to a confident start, as he stroked his way to 19 from 24 deliveries including three boundaries, but fell for 19, attempting a poor shot as he tried a forceful drive through the off-side.
The right-hander tried to play the uppercut off seamer Yasir Arafat but the extra bounce beat him, taking the edge to Misbah-ul Haq in the slips. India were reduced to 44 for 2 in the 17th over and suddenly there were in a spot of bother.
The pitch looked very good for batting, as the ball came on nicely to the bat, and Dravid must be disappointed on missing out.
However, for debutant Arafat, he could not have wished for a bigger scalp than the former India captain as his first Test wicket.
But his day got better when he bagged his second wicket, that of the in-form Jaffer. The Mumbai opener was dismissed leg before wicket as he offered no shot to an in-swinging delivery and was struck right in front of the stumps. Jaffer was gone for 17 as India were reduced to 51 for 3 in the 19th over.
Arafat was unstoppable, as he struck again, claiming the key wicket of VVS Laxman just before the lunch break. Laxman (5) was bowled off an inside edge after the ball kept a bit low as India were reduced to a lowly 61 for 4.
It was a terrible morning session for India as they reached 65 for 4 in 24 overs. Sourav Ganguly was unbeaten on 12 from 24 deliveries, while Yuvraj Singh was not out on 0.
For captain Anil Kumble [Images], it was not the start he expected after electing to bat on winning the toss. Ganguly and Yuvraj have a huge task on their hand as they look to bring India back into the match.
It was a disappointing show by the Indian batsmen. They got out to a few indiscreet shots after getting their eye in. But all credit to Arafat as he kept plugging in the channel outside the off-stump and forced the batsmen into making mistakes for dream figures of 3 for 22 in seven overs.
Ganguly started confidently after lunch, hitting a couple of sweetly-timed boundaries, while at the other end Yuvraj tried to get settled. The youngster, playing in a Test after nearly 18 months, announced himself with a beautiful straight boundary off Sami.
Meanwhile, Ganguly caressed Shoaib for two boundaries in as many overs through the leg-side.
After a nervy 30 minutes, it seemed Yuvraj had found his footing in the middle as he began to middle every ball he faced. The two boundaries off Sami on either side of the wicket in the 33rd over, as India also brought up their 100, were ample testimony of the fact that he was well-settled.
The two batsmen were having it easy as the pitch looked at its best for batting. Yuvraj, particularly, enjoyed himself as he hit two boundaries off Kaneria and Sami in consecutive to move to 35 and overtake Ganguly.
In the 16 overs after lunch, India scored at a good rate -- 64 runs in 16 overs -- to somewhat improve their position after the loss of those early wickets.
Like most left-handers, Ganguly and Yuvraj also enjoyed playing through the off-side and pierced the cover area brilliantly for boundaries quite regularly in the afternoon session.
Yuvraj completed his half-century in style when he played a delightful flick through the mid-wicket for a boundary off Arafat. It took the left-hander 75 deliveries to reach his fourth half-century in Tests and included nine cracking boundaries.
The two batsmen brought up their 100-run partnership when Ganguly smashed Kaneria for a boundary through the off-side.
Ganguly also hit an identical flick like Yuvraj through the leg-side to bring up his half-century. It took the veteran batsman 92 deliveries to reach his fifty and included 10 boundaries.
With all his frontline bowlers going for runs and Shoaib Akhtar [Images] being taken to hospital for an MRI scan after complaining of back pain, captain Younis Khan brought himself on. But the move didn't work as Ganguly took a liking to his medium pace and carted him for three boundaries in two overs.
The session totally belonged to India as they posted 192 for 4 in 54 overs at the tea break.
Ganguly was unbeaten on a solid 62, having hit 12 boundaries in his 108-ball knock. Yuvraj also entertained with a brisk knock of 67 in 100 deliveries, inclusive of 12 boundaries.
A total of 21 boundaries were hit in the session as India amassed 127 runs in just 30 overs. If not for the four early wickets, India could have been in the driver's seat by now. But they can't relax yet and both batsmen need to carry on and make most of batting on this dream wicket.
Pakistan are hampered by the loss of Akhtar and India must make it count.
Ganguly brought up India's 200 courtesy a delightful boundary straight down the ground off Kaneria in the 57th over of the innings.
Yuvraj then smashed Sami through the off-side to race in the eighties and also bring up the 150-run partnership with Ganguly.
The Punjab left-hander didn't waste much time in the nervous nineties. A thick outside edge off Sami took him to 93 and then another boundary on 96 carried him to his third century, which he celebrated by leaping into the air and pumping his fists in delight.
It was one of the best hundreds scored by an Indian batsman recently and, quite deservedly, he got a standing ovation from the nearly-packed stands at the M Chinnaswamy stadium. The 25-year-old needed just 137 deliveries to reach the landmark and it including 18 cracking boundaries on both sides of the wicket.
Interestingly, all his three centuries have come against Pakistan , the one before this was in Karachi last in February.
What a great knock it was from the young left-hander. Had it not been for Sachin Tendulkar and Mahendra Singh Dhoni's injuries, he wouldn't have got a chance to play today.
The sun was its brightest now and so was Yuvraj as he continued plundering boundaries through the off-side with utter disdain. He brought up the 200-run partnership for the fifth wicket with a huge six over midwicket off Kaneria in the 69 th over.
The runs were coming at a frantic pace and the Pakistani bowlers, in the absence of Shoaib, looked really clueless against this onslaught from Yuvraj. All this while, Ganguly showed great maturity and held fort at the other end.
It was all one-way traffic as India slowly but surely gained the initiative after the loss of those early wickets. Yuvraj brought up the 300-run mark for the hosts with yet another stylish boundary through the covers in the 76th over.
Ganguly took time to get his century and for most part of the day was overshadowed by Yuvraj's brilliant hitting once the youngster got going. But, still, it was quite an important knock and it put India firmly in the driver's seat.
He didn't leap in the air or pump his fists like Yuvraj, but raised his bat in triumph to celebrate his second consecutive century in the series. He took 178 deliveries and hit 18 boundaries to reach his 15th Test century and also got a standing ovation from the Bangalore crowd.
Pakistan took the new ball in the 84th over but nothing improved for them as India continued smashing boundaries. Ganguly hit Arafat for a sweetly-timed boundary through the covers and the new ball sped to the ropes at great speed.
In the next over, Yuvraj completed his 150 when an inside edge off Sami went to the fine leg boundary.
In fact, the first three overs with the new ball were a complete disaster for Pakistan as runs poured in quicker than they could imagine. A total of six boundaries were hit in the first three overs with the new ball.
Yuvraj even hit a straight lofted boundary down the ground three overs from stumps and Ganguly could just smile and admire from the other end. The 300-run partnership between the two batsmen came up in the 88th over and Yuvraj had contributed 169 of those.
However, the elegant left-hander fell to the next delivery when he got a leading edge off Sami and was caught in the gully for 169.
Yuvraj will surely be disappointed to get out so late in the day, but the entertainment he provided was quite magnificent. He hit 28 boundaries and a six in his 203-ball knock that saw him add 300 runs for the fifth wicket with Ganguly.
For the first hour-and-a-half, India looked in deep trouble and heading for disaster but then these two left-handers played out of their skin. Not only did they rescue India, but have also taken them to a position of strength and it remains to be seen how Pakistan can fight back from here.
At close on day one, India reached 365 for 5 in 90 overs with Ganguly unbeaten on 125. The veteran left-hander hit 20 boundaries in 214-ball knock and had played a big part in India's revival along with the blazing Yuvraj.
Arafat bowled well to take 3 for 98 in 22 overs but found it difficult when the two left-handers got going.
The pitch is still good for batting and India must take full advantage of it make it count to the fullest.