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India opt for safety after Pakistan’s 537

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Batsmen of both teams gave the bowlers no chance to make serious impact even on a fourth day track which was full of wide cracks at the Chinnaswamy Stadium. After struggling hard to end the Pakistani first innings which lasted around 168 overs, the Indians were prepared for a fiery spell from Shoaib on an uneven wicket. They lost their openers cheaply but the experience of Sourav and Rahul made the difference in keeping the dangerous Akhtar and the other bowlers frustrated. India seemed to have secured the match with a second innings lead of 220 and with 8 wickets in hand.

The Indians had an extremely frustrating morning session as the bowlers just couldn’t beat the solid defense of the Pakistani batsmen, in particular Misbah-ul-Haq. Finally they saw the back of atleast Kamran Akmal (65 from 114 balls with 12 fours) which came after the drinks break with the right hander deceived in the flight by Harbhajan and the rest of the work was done behind by an alert Dinesh Karthik. The Indian team bagged a record which was for the most extras conceded in an innings beating the previous one of 70 by the West Indies. Poor Dinesh Karthik will be the culprit if one just goes by the scorecard, a total of 35 byes against him. If one thought that India could run through the tail after Akmal’s dismissal, then they are wrong as Yasir Arafat has some good batting abilities which he showed to Pakistan past lunch comfortably at 470 for 6. Misbah ate his lunch on a nervous 99.

After the lunch break, Misbah celebrated his second test century of his shockingly short international career. Luck finally helped Ishant Sharma to end yet another frustrating partnership with a low ball ending Arafat’s impressive stay (44 from 70 balls with 7 fours). Ishant then didn’t waste much time as he not only cleaned up the tail which comprised of Sami, Shoaib and Kaneria but also ended up with a maiden five-wicket haul. While Sami one of the most difficult players to be dismissed by a surprising yorker, Shoaib and Kaneria were softened by short pitch deliveries. The Indians however couldn’t find any way in getting the wicket of Misbah, who remained an unconquered Emperor on 133 (from 322 balls with 17 fours). Ishant Sharma ended with 33.1-10-118-5 which surely would buy him a ticket to Australia.

Pakistan conceded a lead of just 89 and they were dreaming of a demolishing spell from a ‘fit’ Shoaib. The Rawalpindi Express was bowling superbly, getting the ball to jump up and down to intimidate the two Indian openers. In between, he cleverly bowled a slower off cutter at 121kmph that fooled Gautam Gambhir, who was bowled. In the 13th over, Yasir Arafat complemented Shoaib with a low inswinger that trapped Jaffer in the crease to make it 26 for 2. But those were the only wickets that Pak could get in the remaining part of the day. If Dravid was more intent at keeping one end safe, Ganguly was instrumental in trying to get quick runs before anything unplayable comes. Both were successful in their respective missions as Shoaib & co. struggled to make any damage. Ganguly notched up a quick 63 and Dravid, a solid 35 with India at 131 for 2 in 37 overs.