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Ganguly, Pathan bat Pak out of the Test and Series

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Pakistan for a second consecutive time in the ongoing 3-Test Series are left with the difficult task of trying to catch up with a 600 plus first innings total. The bright thing is that the visitors have started off their pursuit in a solid way but at the loss of one casualty. They ended the second day at 86 for 1 with Salman Butt and Younus Khan at the crease. This was after a dream day for both Sourav Ganguly, who scored his maiden double century in his long career and also Irfan Pathan who had scored his maiden test match hundred.

Resuming the post lunch session on 169, Sourav Ganguly showed lot of determination and concentration to get to the 200-run mark which he did after scampering hard for a second run. It was only the second time that Ganguly crossed a double century in all forms of cricket. He also went past Sehwag’s record of the highest test score by an Indian at Bangalore. Ganguly also grabbed the record of the highest score by a left hander at this venue. He couldn’t break the record set by Younus Khan in the last series which was the highest score at this venue. Ganguly’s innings finally came to an end a few minutes before tea after failing to connect a sweep off Danish Kaneria to get his furniture disturbed. Ganguly made 239 from 361 balls with 30 fours and two sixes which took India from a match losing situation to a match winning one.

Irfan Pathan, who had figured in a 178-run stand with Ganguly was in a fear of getting stranded in the 90s after the tea break. That was because he saw the wickets of Kumble (lbw to Danish Kaneria) and Harbhajan (clean bowled by Yasir Arafat) go down in the space of seven balls. Pathan was lucky enough to get to his maiden ton after Ishant Sharma, the no. 11 showed enough technique to survive. Pathan got to his century with a big six off Kaneria and in the very next ball tried to go for another one which was miscued in the air and caught to end India’s innings. Pathan made 102 which came in 133 balls with 10 fours and 4 sixes and India got 626 in just over 150 overs at a run rate of over 4.00.

Shoaib Akhtar didn’t bowl at all today and that got the remaining three specialist bowlers to do the donkey’s job. Arafat got a five-wicket haul but that came at the cost of 161 runs and bowling 39 overs. Kaneria finished with 3 for 168 in over 46 overs. The Indian new ball attack had the freshness in the form of the energetic Irfan Pathan and Ishant Sharma. Both didn’t get much movement and swing though and the Pakistani openers could comfortably negotiate both these bowlers.

A solid start was given by Yasir Hameed and Salman Butt which made it difficult for a wicket to go down by stumps. But Yasir Hameed’s poor technique against Anil Kumble came to the fold again and India could find the opening which came in the 17th over. Hameed (19 from 48 with 4 fours) yet again got hit on the pad after playing along the wrong line to Kumble. Apart from that wicket, Pakistan batting didn’t look in any trouble with Salman Butt and Younus Khan showing good technique against both pace and spin. Pakistan batted out 27 overs getting 86 on the board. Salman Butt has been severe on Ishant Sharma to take his score to exactly 50 from 85 balls (with 9 fours). Captain Younus Khan kept his cool although he was struck on 0 for quite sometime to remain unbeaten on 7. The Pakistani batsmen surely will be challenged by the indifferent bounce as the match progresses. The Test Match and the Series is in India’s pocket as it needs a miracle if Pak have to win after giving away 626 runs in the first innings.