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India on threshold of history

Ashish Magotra | March 31, 2004 13:38 IST
Last Updated: March 31, 2004 18:44 IST

Scorecard | Images from Day 4

Stand-in skipper Rahul Dravid rang in effective bowling changes to put India on the threshold of victory in the first Test against Pakistan in Multan on Wednesday.

His bowlers claimed 13 wickets on day four to have Pakistan reeling at 206 for 9 in their second innings after being forced to follow-on.

Yousuf Youhana, unbeaten on 107, provided the lone resistance after Pakistan were reduced to 44 for 3.

Anil Kumble wrecked the hosts, claiming six wickets for 71 runs.

Pakistan still trail India's first innings total of 675 for 5 declared by 61 runs.

They were earlier bowled out for 407 in their first innings. Irfan Pathan was India's most successful bowler, claiming four wickets for 100 runs.

Morning session

India's day could not have got off to a better start. When the visitors hit the bed at the end of Day 3, they would have known in their hearts that if they could get Abdul Razzaq out early the next morning a win would be theirs for the taking.

But not one among them would have imagined that the success they so greatly desired would come off the first ball of the morning.

Irfan Pathan is certainly not one who believes in warm-up deliveries, The first ball was banged in short and straight at Razzaq. The batsman, more out of surprise, fended at the ball which hit the gloves and looped to wicket-keeper Parthiv Patel.

Razzaq was gone without adding to his overnight score and India had taken wickets off two consecutive balls. Sachin Tendulkar claimed a wicket off the last ball on Day 3.

Even on a placid wicket, Pathan proved that it is possible to outthink the batsman. And that is perhaps the young paceman's greatest attribute. He plans his dismissals.

Dravid continue to attack with Tendulkar at the other end. The master batsmen was turning the ball more than any other bowler on view in this Test and that quality can be very useful against tail-enders.

Pathan got another breakthrough in the third over of the day. A short ball, directed at the body of Saqlain Mushtaq, was followed by another, slightly outside the off-stump. A harried Saqlain went for the pull but only succeeded in top edging the ball to the mid-off region, where Zaheer Khan took a good catch.

More was to follow. Three balls later, Shoaib Akhtar hit a tossed up delivery from Tendulkar straight back to the bowler. Tendulkat took the catch with ease and just like that Pakistan had lost three wickets in the space of 20 balls.

The last wicket-pair of Shabbir Ahmed and Mohammad Sami were at the wicket and Pakistan still needed 105 runs to avoid the follow-on and make India bat again.

Shabbir and Sami batted well and in the process frustrated the Indian bowlers. There can be few more annoying things than to watch bowlers struggle to claim the last wicket.

Dravid changed the bowlers around but one got the feeling he persisted with Tendulkar a bit too long. Granted that he was getting the ball to turn and bounce, but he is best used in four to five over spells, only to add variety.

Even as the last wicket put on 36 vital runs, India were struck a huge blow when Zaheer walked off the field after sustaining an injury. He was seen receiving treatment from the team physio even as Kumble took the last wicket to fall.

Kumble, after bowling a few overs from over the wickets, changed his angle and came round. A negative line, but then the tailender is not your normal batsman. The trick worked. The ball pitched outside the leg stump and was going across the batsman. Sami tried to pad it away but the ball hit the pad, ricocheted onto his elbow and then to the stumps. It was an unlucky end to a fighting innings.

India enforced the follow-on with Pakistan still needing to make 268 runs to make India bat again.

It was a good session of seven overs in Pakistan's second innings. Pathan and Balaji both got the ball to swing but a wicket eluded them.

Openers Imran Farhat (7) and Taufiq Umar (2) were at the crease.


After the fast bowlers had toiled away without success against the Pakistani openers, the introduction of spin worked for Dravid. Once again a bowling change did the trick. Virtually every time Dravid made a change it yielded results for India. And that speaks volumes for his ability as captain.

He attacked and the intentions were clear. India want to win and having played themselves into an advantageous position, there will be no steps backward.

Kumble, bowling over the wicket, foxed Farhat (24) and, for once, Patel held on to a tough catch.

There has been a lot of criticism about Patel's keeping but he did his job to perfection this time. (33-1)

As it happened in the morning session, one wicket led to another. Umar (9) was playing a sedate, controlled innings and in the circumstances it seemed exactly what Pakistan needed. But the opener was trapped leg before the wicket, offering no shot to a Kumble leg-spin delivery. Umpire Shepherd had no doubt and the batsman was heading back to the pavilion. (44-2)

The bad got worse when skipper Inzamam-ul Haq was disastrously run-out for a duck in the same score.

Hameed pushed the ball to mid-wicket and set off for a quick single. Iznamam reacted late but Yuvraj Singh moved quickly. Even as the Pakistan skipper touched full speed, Yuvraj picked up and released the ball in a single action. A direct hit resulted and the Pakistan skipper was caught just out his crease.

It was a death blow to Pakistan's hopes of saving the match. Inzamam is without doubt the best batsman in the Pakistan team and without him their chances of saving the match are very slim.

Now Kumble was looking at his best. The rust that was so evident in the first innings had given way to poise and confidence. The Indians were charged; another first beckoned. No Indian team has ever won a Test in Pakistan. The record: 5 lost, 15 drawn!

It is often said that Ganguly does not utilize his full complement of bowlers. One cannot say the same about Dravid. Tendulkar and Sehwag had already bowled in the innings. Now Dravid gave the ball to Yuvraj. His Midas touch was still present. Almost every change got him a wicket in this match. And so it was again.

Yuvraj bowled from round the wicket into Hameed's legs. The young batsman went for the sweep and got a top edge to short fine leg, where Sehwag took a simple catch. (75-4)

The Pakistanis have been thoroughly outplayed in this Test. Not once have they looked capable of challenging a confident Indian side. Razzaq joined Youhana at the wicket and the two battled gamely until tea.

At tea, Pakistan were 91 for the loss of four wickets. Yousuf Youhana, 19, and Razzaq, 11, were trying to salvage some pride for the home team.

India are on top; the only question is how quickly can they finish the match.

Post-Tea session

Kumble came into his own in the final session and proved just how dangerous he can be on the fourth and fifth day of a Test match. A worn-out pitch is the best way to get the leg-spinner up and running after a long injury lay-off.

At tea, Pakistan's plight was desperate. As the final session progressed all their hopes of saving the Test match were snuffed out by a superb display of disciplined bowling.

Throughout the Test, discipline and dedication did the job for India on a placid pitch, where the pace and bounce of the Pakistan pacemen failed miserably. It also put into real measure the true greatness of Sehwag's achievement.

Razzaq looked shaky after tea, not really sure of his footwork and against Kumble. In the 43rd over of the innings, the ball popped up to silly point where V V S Laxman took a good catch. There was a sound and the Indian players were sure that they had got their man. But the umpire turned down the appeal. Television replays later showed that he got a touch on that one. Razzaq was second time lucky, having survived a huge leg before appeal early in his innings.

But Kumble got his man the next ball, all thanks a brilliant catch by Akash Chopra at forward short leg. It takes a brave man to stand in the line of fire but Chopra has proved to be a natural at that position. He took some blinders on the tour of Australia and added another one to that list today.

Razzaq went back to a short delivery from Kumble and flicked the ball uppishly to the on-side. The ball flew hard and fast towards Chopra, who, after keeping his eyes on the ball all along, plucked it virtually out of thin air. Jubilation for the Indians and despair for the Pakistanis

A promising partnership of 31 came to an end and the hosts were reduced to 106 for the loss of five wickets.

Moin Khan was the next batsman.

Pathan, at the other end, got an extended spell. The left-armer, getting the ball to reverse, kept the runs down and generally made life difficult for the batsmen.

An in-swinging full length delivery struck Moin on the front pad. The umpire correctly adjudged him out. But Moin was unhappy with the decision and stood rooted to the crease long after the decision. That action of the Pakistan wicket-keeper will surely invite the wrath of the match referee.

Mohammad Sami batted well in the first innings but by the time he was out had used up most of his luck. In the second essay, the fast bowler moved forward is an attempt to defend but was trapped leg-before the wicket for a duck.

That was the cue for Youhana to launch a fierce counter-attack on the Indian bowlers. When Sami was dismissed, the right hander was on 34, scored off 89 balls. By the end of day's play he had reached 106 off 147 deliveries. 72 runs had come off a mere 58 balls.

Fours and sixes were the order of the day for Youhana as he put on 70 runs in 88 balls with Shoaib Akhtar.

The partnership was Pakistan's best for the innings. It ended when a quick delivery from Kumble on the off and middle stump caught Akhtar playing a nothing shot. The ball scooped up to Laxman at silly point. Umpire Shepherd was unsure and called for the third umpire to make the decision. 

Shabbir Ahmed survived the last over. But to take 13 wickets in one day on a dead wicket is amazing. India are on the threshold of a great victory. Pakistan are still 61 runs behind.

At close of play on Day 4, Pakistan are 207 for the loss of nine wickets.

Youhana's century showed that the wicket is still good for batting but Pakistan had no answer to the grit and determination of this young Indian side.

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