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Kumble bags five as Test ends in exciting draw
Harish Kotian in Bangalore | December 12, 2007 12:02 IST
Last Updated: December 12, 2007 17:55 IST
India won their first Test series at home against Pakistan in 27 years after the third Test ended in a thrilling draw at the M Chinnaswamy in Bangalore on Wednesday.
The visitors survived several anxious moments before finishing on 162 for 7 in 36 overs after being set 374 in 48 overs for victory.
Captain Anil Kumble [Images] threatened to script a famous victory with a five-wicket burst (5 for 60) in the final session, and Yuvraj Singh [Images] took 2 for 9, but just when Pakistan appeared heading for defeat, the fading light came to their rescue.
The draw meant that India won the three-match series 1-0. They won the first Test in Delhi by six wickets, while the second in Kolkata ended in a draw.
India's last home series victory over Pakistan was in 1979-80, when the Sunil Gavaskar-led team won the sixth-match series 2-0.
Sourav Ganguly [Images], who scored 239 and 91 in the two innings of the final Test, was deservedly named man of the match and man of the series. He ended the series as the highest run scorer, tallying 534 runs, at an average of 89, including a double century, century and a half-century.
It was Kumble's first series after being named captain.
Sourav Ganguly completed 1000 runs in 2007 courtesy a lucky boundary in the first over of the day from Mohammad Sami [Images]. The left-hander got a thick inside edge that flew past the wicketkeeper to the fine-leg boundary and took him to 68.
Shoaib Akhtar [Images] sent down an inspired spell in the morning as he troubled Ganguly with short deliveries aimed at his body. The left-hander also took a few blows on his body, and did well in fending some balls away from the fielders.
It was not only the height of the deliveries, but also Akhtar's pace that troubled Ganguly. The ace fast bowler bowled a good spell of seven overs, giving away 19 runs, and was unlucky not to pick any wicket.
Sami replaced him and even he tried the short delivery, but his lack of pace was evident when Ganguly pulled him mercilessly through square leg for a boundary to move to 89.
Dravid scored 42 before he was dismissed leg before wicket to Kaneria in the 52nd over. Kaneria bowled from round the wicket and struck Dravid on the front foot, right in front of the stumps, to claim his first wicket of the innings.
Dravid added 152 runs for the third wicket with Ganguly, but during his 121-ball stay at the wicket was never comfortable.
It ended a disappointing series for the former India captain. He finished with 191 runs from six innings at an average of 38.20 in a batsman-dominated series.
Ganguly fell three balls later when he was caught at gully off Sami for 91. The left-hander, who hit 12 boundaries and a six in 134 deliveries, looked good for another century but a loose shot proved costly. He will not be too sore though after ending the series with productive returns of 534 runs, at an average of 89, including a double century, century and a half-century.
Yuvraj Singh walked out to bat on his 26th birthday amidst a loud cheers from the crow. However, the left-hander was dismissed after scoring just two. He was given out caught behind off Sami, but a closer look at the replays on television indicated that the ball missed the edge of the bat.
Three quick wickets in the space of three overs gave Pakistan some hope, but India still had a handy lead of 273 runs, with five wickets left.
Pakistan bowled with real purpose in the morning session as they strived to make one final effort, though one felt it came too late in the match.
VVS Laxman calmed a few nerves with two elegant boundaries on both sides of the wicket off Sami in the 57th over of the innings.
Dinesh Karthik [Images], under fire for his string of failures in the series, got off the mark in fine style. He lofted a full toss from Kaneria over the mid-wicket fence for a six and then followed it up with two boundaries through the same region.
At the lunch break, India were 221 for 5 in 62 overs, extending their overall lead to 310 runs.
VVS Laxman was unbeaten on 14 (two boundaries), while Karthik was not out on a brisk 23, including three boundaries and a six in 26 deliveries.
Sixty-four overs remain in the day. With still not much assistance from the pitch for the bowlers, it is highly unlikely that Pakistan will push for a victory.
However, it remains to be seen whether India captain Anil Kumble will be brave enough to declare after lunch or be content in playing for a draw.
India were dealt a big blow after the break when Laxman (14) was struck on the elbow by a short delivery from Akhtar and was forced to retire. The Hyderabadi batsman, who was not wearing the forearm protector, was hit on the elbow joint by a short ball that did not bounce much. He immediately threw his bat away and seemed in lot of pain as physio John Gloster attended him.
It could be a big blow for India if the injury is serious considering that the team leaves for Australia, for a four-Test series, in a few days.
Irfan Pathan [Images], who scored 102 in the first innings, got going with a confident boundary off Akhtar through the covers. He followed it up with another boundary off Kaneria through the same area in the next over.
The left-hander tried to take charge and attempted a lofted shot down the ground against Kaneria, but the ball went straight to Mohammad Yousuf [Images] at mid-off, who, surprisingly, floored the easy offering.
Karthik posted his half-century with a beautiful straight drive off Arafat. The Chennai youngster was found wanting for runs in the series but answered his critics in grand style, hitting eight boundaries and a six in his 66-ball knock.
He fell to the next delivery, caught behind off Arafat for 50 and immediately Kumble declared the innings at 284 for 6 in 76.3 overs, setting Pakistan a stiff task of 374 for victory in 48 overs.
Pathan finished unbeaten on 21 from 43 balls, including three boundaries as India batted for more than an hour in the second session.
It will take more than a miracle for Pakistan to chase that target down and level the series.
Pakistan began their second innings knowing well they would not be able to score the runs or the Indian bowlers claim 10 wickets.
Indian pacers Irfan Pathan and Ishant Sharma tried hard with the new ball but there was hardly anything in the pitch to trouble the Pakistan openers.
Kumble came on in the sixth over of the innings and immediately found the edge of Salman Butt's [Images] bat. The left-hander played at a wide delivery that spun away and took the edge, but was put down by Dravid at first slip. In the process he got off the mark after 23 deliveries.
In the next over, Yasir Hameed [Images], on 7, got a reprieve when Kumble put him down at gully off Pathan. The left-armer had to pay the price in his next over when Hameed hit him for three boundaries.
At the tea break, Pakistan were 23 for no loss in 10 overs, still needing another 351 runs in 37 overs to win the match.
Action in the middle was pretty boring with chances of a result slim.
Hameed started off with three boundaries in the first two overs after the break. In the 14th over, Kumble brought the excitement back into the game by picking two wickets. First, he dismissed Hameed for 39 with a quicker delivery that crashed into the stumps and three balls later struck with the big wicket of Younis Khan, who was caught and bowled for 0.
Pakistan were now reduced to 44 for 2 after 14 overs, and with 34 overs left to be bowled, the question was whether India could claim remaining eight wickets?
Youngster Faisal Iqbal [Images] showed a positive approach despite those two dismissals. He lashed Harbhajan for two boundaries in the 21st over to progress to 22 from 25 deliveries.
Kumble then picked his third wicket from the other end when he had Salman Butt caught behind. The left-hander tried to cut but could only edge it behind to the wicketkeeper and was dismissed for 8.
However, Iqbal and Misbah-ul Haq went for their shots in order to counter Kumble's threat, who was bowling seam-up deliveries to take advantage of the cracks in the pitch.
Misbah slapped four boundaries in the space of two overs to race to 29 off 21 deliveries. At the other end Iqbal also went for his shots, and scored 37 from 39 deliveries.
Harbhajan came on for a new spell in the 29th over of the innings but Iqbal took him on immediately, hitting him for two boundaries down the ground. In the next over, the batsman reached his half-century, his sixth in Tests, off just 48 deliveries, inclusive of eight boundaries.
But then the veteran Kumble worked his magic again with a two-wicket burst in his 12th over. Iqbal was caught at mid-on, trying to pull a short delivery from the leg-spinner, after a brisk knock of 51.
The very next delivery saw Kamran Akmal bowled by another quick delivery that crashed on to his stumps. Pakistan were reduced to 144 for 5 and with 16 yet to be bowled could India finish off the lower order? Would the fading light be a factor?
The field placing now was unbelievable as the whole Indian team crowded near the batsman.
Misbah (37) also saw his stumps go for a walk when Yuvraj Singh bowled him with a quicker delivery. With every passing over the match got interesting and the crowd more vocal as chants of " India, India" filled the stands.
Yuvraj didn't have a great day with the bat on his 26th birthday, but he was turning it on with the ball. He struck in his next over when he deceived Yasir Arafat (0) with the arm ball that kept low and bowled him out.
Pakistan, now reduced to 158 for 7, suddenly faced the prospect of ending up on the losing side. Just a few overs before everybody thought the Test would end in a draw, but Kumble single-handedly inspired India's breathtaking performance with the ball.
The two Pakistan batsmen, Mohammad Yousuf (10 not out) and Mohammad Sami (4 not out), took the offer of light with Pakistan delicately placed on 162 for 7 in 36 overs.
The floodlights were put on and suddenly the light seemed perfect for play. But, as was agreed before the start of the series, the artificial light could not used. It had to be switched off, but not before a lot of confusion.
Finally, there was nothing the Indian team could do as the light deteriorated.
In the end, the wicket was too flat and never offered the bowlers any real help except for the final session of the match. It was a match dominated by the batsmen and both teams scored more than 500 in their first innings. A total of 1609 runs, scored in the course of five days for the loss of just 33 wickets in this match, showed how much the bowlers suffered.
Many will ask why Kumble did not declare earlier. But, then, leading 1-0 he did not want to take any unnecessary risks. After all, a draw was enough to win the series.
The series victory will surely serve as a boost for the team ahead of the tough four-match series coming up in Australia later this month.