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Light saves Pak from Kumble’s fire and from going down 0-2

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Pakistan had batted out more than 168 overs in their first innings, in terms of hours, it was close to 12 hours! In their second innings, they had to bat out just a little more than a session. But that was almost enough for a breathtaking result – an Indian win which was halted only by bad light with Pakistan having just the three wickets in hand and over 10 overs to go. Anil Kumble did the turnaround for all the bowlers in this test match with a completely changed bowling strategy. While the caption for his bowling is leg break/googly, Kumble was more of a leg cutter and an outswinger bowler today which sent five Pakistani batsmen walking back to the pavilion in a hurry.

Light literally played spoilsport for the Indians but they are already a satisfied team as they could achieve a home series win against the arch rivals after 27 years! Pakistan did deserve a draw because of their beautiful fightback ever since they were bludgeoned for 626 runs by the hosts. Light came into play at around 4:25 PM IST. Both teams prior to the series had declined to use artificial lights to continue play in case of bad light. And with no chance of the sun breaking through the clouds, the result was loud and clear – a draw. The stadium authorities acted quickly in displaying all the essential updates on the big electronic screens to have the crowd informed. The nets over the stands were also pulled down as precautionary measures. The crowd got a good game overall, lot of great batting display and the occasional good bowling spells.

India had started the final day thinking of securing the game further, they were 131 for 2 with a lead of 220. The overnight pair of Dravid and Ganguly weathered any early morning storms to further take the game away from the hosts. As the first hour passed by, India took the lead to 264 with both Dravid and Ganguly still hanging in there. The partnership was broken by a googly from Kaneria which beat Dravid’s defence to rap him up on the frontpad. Dravid made just 42 (from 121 balls with 6 fours) but figured in a vital stand of 152 with Ganguly. The next over after Dravid’s wicket, Ganguly too departed back to the pavilion missing out on a rare feat of getting a double and a century in a test match. He was gone for 91 (from 134 balls with 12 fours and a six) after cutting Mohammad Sami straight to the fielder at gully. A couple of overs later, Umpire Rudi Koertzen gave a bad decision to end birthday boy Yuvraj Singh’s stay at the middle.

Yuvraj was given caught behind off Sami but what happened was that it was a case of the bat hitting the boot that foxed the umpire. Things became quite dramatic with three wickets going down in a short space of time. India finished the first session at 221 for 5 in 62 overs taking their lead past the 300 run mark. In the post lunch session, India received a big blow with VVS Laxman getting hit on his unprotected elbow to a bouncer from Shoaib Akhtar which just didn’t get up at all. Laxman (14) had to retire hurt, the biggest worry now was his availability for the Australian tour. Later in the day, the news came that there was no big damage to rule out VVS. The declaration from Kumble came in after an hour’s batting from Dinesh Karthik, who came up with an entertaining half century. Soon after reaching his half century (52 from 67 with 8 fours and a six), Karthik got out nicking one behind off Yasir Arafat. Pathan stayed unbeaten on 21 and India declared its innings after Karthik’s wicket at 284 for 6 leaving a daunting target of 374 from a possible 47 overs.

Pakistan batted out 10 overs before tea without any problem. The two opening batsmen Yasir Hameed and Salman Butt looked in control and the match was expected to become an inevitable draw at around 4:00 PM. But Kumble probably had other ideas. He almost bowled like a medium pacer and gave the breakthrough with one 109kmph skidder that went past the bat off Hameed (39 from 41 balls with 8 fours) to disturb the furniture. In the same over, which was the 14th over, Kumble caught and bowled Younus Khan off a loose on the rise drive to make the match exciting. For the next half an hour or so, normalcy was restored through Salman Butt and an attacking Faisal Iqbal. Once again Kumble came up with the breakthrough, this time getting Salman Butt (8 from 58 balls) to under edge a cut shot which was taken well by Karthik.

Another tiny partnership kept the Indians waiting with Faisal Iqbal and Misbah-ul-Haq holding the fort. It was ended by a quicker one from Kumble which induced a miscued pull shot from Faisal Iqbal, who had raced away to 51 (with 8 fours) in nearly as many deliveries. An Indian win was looking possible when Kumble cleaned up the stumps of Kamran Akmal in the very next ball with a leg cutter. Seven balls later, Yuvraj joined the party with an armer that crashed through the Wall of Pakistan, Misbah-ul-Haq (37 form 40 balls with 7 fours). Yuve bowled a similar kind of delivery that sent Yasir Arafat for a 2-ball duck to leave Pak at 154 for 7. Yousuf, who came at no.7 was the only man capable of saving the Test, he was helped by the light factor soon. Anil Kumble had destructive figures of 5 for 60 in 14 overs and Yuvraj seems to be a very useful part timer as he got 2 for 9 in 3 overs. The Man of the Match and the Man of the Series both were taken by Sourav Ganguly.