Rahul Dravid hit a record-breaking 270 as India tightened the noose around Pakistan on the third day of the third and final Test in Rawalpindi on Thursday.
After scoring a massive 600 in the first innings, for a 376-run lead, India knocked off both the Pakistan openers to leave the hosts struggling on 49 for 2 at stumps.
In scoring a double century Dravid became the first Indian to notch five Test double centuries and fourth player from the country to score a double ton against Pakistan in Pakistan after Virender Sehwag (309), Sanjay Manjrekar (218) and Anshuman Gaekwad (201).
The going was slow. The first 30 minutes of play yielded just 12 runs as the Pakistan bowlers maintained a good line and length even as the India batsmen looked to consolidate their lead.
The pitch had cracks on it and every time a ball hit one of them it did something. But other than the odd hiccup it was still good for batting. It will get progressively worse as the match goes on, but for the present the Indians can make merry.
Pakistan skipper Inzamam-ul Haq must have been very disappointed by Shoaib Akhtar's refusal to even come on to field after injuring his left arm while bowling on day 2.
The fast bowler has been his side's best bowler in this Test, his figures of three wickets for 47 runs bear testimony to the fact. The least he could have done was inspire his team by trying to come on and bowl.
His attitude was in stark contrast to that of the late Malcolm Marshall's awe-inspiring performance against England at Leeds in 1984.
The West Indies bowler had fractured his hand in the first innings of the match while bowling, but he came out to bat with a fractured left hand defying the team doctor's orders to ensure teammate Larry Gomes got his century.
He then came on to bowl in the second innings and ripped the England batting apart with a staggering seven-wicket haul, 7-53, to lead West Indies to an eight-wicket victory.
This is the kind of commitment that the Inzamam would have wanted from his best bowler. But it was sadly lacking.
Dravid has been superb since the World Cup in South Africa; 971 runs have been scored since then at an astounding average of 88.27. He continued in the same vein here, punishing anything loose but playing with great restraint otherwise.
Running between wickets has been one of Ganguly's main problems and he is the first man to admit it. But accepting a mistake and rectifying it are two different things.
Having survived a run-out attempt early in the day, he virtually gift-wrapped his wicket to the Pakistan team.
One of the most basic rules of running a quick single is to regain the crease as quickly as possible. And in doing so, one must take the shortest route and if need be get your body in between the ball and the stumps.
But Ganguly did the opposite and paid the highest price. The India skipper pushed the ball into the point region and set off for a quick single. Substitute Imran Nazir, on for Akhtar, reached the ball quickly and released it in a jiffy to hit the stumps.
Ganguly failed to ground his bat even as he veered off course in a bid to avoid the ball and was dismissed for 77, which included 12 fours. The left-hander was there in time and all he needed to do was ground his bat. (392-5)
131 runs had been put on for fifth wicket and it helped India bat Pakistan out of the match.
Yuvraj Singh walked in next. He will be under some pressure to prove his worth in the middle order. He survived one huge leg-before appeal off Kaneria even as he and Dravid played out the overs to lunch.
At the break, India had reached a commanding 414 in their first innings, a lead of 190, with Rahul Dravid on 165 and Yuvraj Singh on 13.
In the morning session, India scored 72 runs in 29 overs for the loss of one wicket a session run-rate of just 2.48.
The cricket played after lunch was gritty. Pakistan looked to take whatever positives they could, but there were not many. India, on their part, looked for some quick runs.
Yuvraj attacked even as Dravid continued to play as he had before lunch. Well-timed pulls and cover-driven boundaries saw the lead grow at a quick rate.
Dravid reached his fifth double century with a single on the leg-side and overtook Sunil Gavaskar as the Indian with most double centuries in Test cricket. He also became the fourth Indian to score a double hundred after Anshuman Gaekwad, Sanjay Manjrekar and Virender Sehwag against Pakistan in Pakistan.
Among current batsmen only Brian Lara has scored more double tons, 7, in Test cricket. Marvan Atapattu and Dravid are second with five.
Yuvraj, having unleashed some brilliant strokes to reach 42, inexplicably slowed down. After scored 42 off 91 balls, the left-hander had reached only 47 in 119 balls. The bowlers were still the same but he decided to go into defensive mode without any real reason.
That tentative approach led to his dismissal. Sami was introduced into the attack for his 37th over of the innings. The fast bowler was given just one slip but he was willing to charge in and bowl his heart out. He trapped Yuvraj leg-before wicket for 47. The ball would have gone on to hit the leg-stump and left-hander walked back a disappointed man. (490-6)
Irfan Pathan was in next and he was especially glad there was no Shoaib Akhtar to greet him with short, fast stuff.
Dravid, on 213, survived a clear inside edge thanks to umpire Rudi Koertzen. Kaneria, who was bowling round the wicket, was distraught. The edge was clearly audible and Dravid was almost embarrassed to stand his ground.
He is one batsman who will bat through the innings and let the others bat around him. It sounds so simple but it reality it's anything but that. There are few in recent memory who do it so well, so consistently, as the India vice-captain.
At tea on day 3, India had reached a commanding 525 for the loss of six wickets, a lead of 190 with Dravid on 227 and Pathan on 9.
The last session of the day started off with a bang. A lofted straight-driven four by Pathan off Farhat showed India's intent.
The excitement continued in the next over. Off the first ball of Kaneria's over, Dravid was dropped at deep mid-wicket by Imran Nazir. This has been a far from typical Dravid innings; he received at least five clear chances, but each time regained his composure and continued.
In the same over, Pathan sacrified his wicket for the team's cause. Trying to play his shots he did not quite latch on to the ball and skied it to long-on. Fazl-e-Akbar ran in from the deep, took a good catch, and gave Kaneria his first wicket of the innings after 56 overs of hard labour. (537-7)
The 19-year-old scored 15 off 35 balls and put on 47 runs with Dravid for the seventh wicket.
Kumble, who came in next, struggled. He scored just two runs off the first 23 balls he faced. One straight six took him to eight and he added one more run before being stumped off Kaneria. (572-8)
By now, it was clear that India were going for quick runs. Dravid started to play his lofted shots and passed Tendulkar's 241 not out to become the third highest individual scorer in Indian cricket history.
He was finally dismissed in the unlikeliest of manners. Trying to reverse sweep, he did not connect well and only played on to the stumps. For a batsman who is renowned for his technique and orthodox play, the dismissal was surprising.
But his job was done. Dravid scored 270 runs off 495 balls, including 34 fours and a six. His last 70 runs came off 70 balls. A true indicator of how he accelerated towards the end. Fours were interspersed with cleverly taken singles as he farmed the strike. (593-9)
A six from Balaji helped India reach 600. The very next ball he perished trying to repeat the shot. Balaji scored 10 off 6 balls. Ashish Nehra was not out on 1.
India scored 75 runs in 12.5 overs after tea. A lead of 376 runs was huge and the visitors will back themselves to win this Test comfortably.
Pakistan second innings
Pakistan came out with a huge mountain to climb and 15 overs to face in the one-hour session before close of play.
The young Pakistan openers Imran Frarhat and Taufeeq Umar walked in knowing that an exceptional performance was required from them if Pakistan were to get anywhere close to the target. They would have also known that the match was lost for all means and purposes.
Ganguly posted three slips and a forward short leg in place to greet the young lads to the wicket.
Balaji was wayward for the first few overs and made the job of the Pakistan openers that much easier. 30 runs were added in the first seven overs of the innings.
Then, the bowlers got their line right and, almost immediately, Balaji struck the first blow. A short rising delivery, pitched in-line and moved away off the seam. Farhat pushed at it -- without any conviction -- away from his body, got a thick edge to Sehwag, who got down to his left and took a good catch at first slip. (30-1)
As it happened in Pakistan's first innings, the fall of one wicket was followed by another.
Pathan struck the second blow when he trapped Umar in front of the stumps. The delivery pitched in pitched line, straightened and would have gone on to hit the leg-stump. Umar was gone for 13 and Pakistan were in big trouble. (34-2)
Kamran Akmal was sent in as the night-watchman. He has a first-class average of 30.06 with a high score of 174. He played a few shots before play could end for the day to reach 10 off 17 deliveries.
The last over was bowled by Anil Kumble, who is six short of 400 wickets. By the time the last ball was bowled, Ganguly had five men around the bat, greatly adding to the pressure on Hameed. But the young right-hander survived and ended the day on 8 off 16 balls.
When stumps were drawn, Pakistan were 49 for 2 after 15 overs.
Kumble will most probably bowl a lot more tomorrow on a pitch that should suit him to the `T'. The match and the series is within grasp but India just have this small job of knocking over the remaining eight Pakistan wickets. They are in charge and one will not be surprised if the match ends tomorrow itself.