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Yuve, Sourav steer India out of trouble with brilliant centuries

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Yuvraj Singh came up with one of the best ever test innings in the game’s history atleast by an Indian. That knock from Yuvraj, a powerful 169 inspired Sourav Ganguly as well to come up with a hundred and in doing so, they not only got their team out of trouble from a precarious 61 for 4 but they got them into a dominant position of 365 for 5. The runs came at a thick pace with an innings run rate of 4.05, but the run rate of the partnership between Ganguly and Yuvraj was way too higher than that with exactly 300 coming in over 65 overs. Yuvraj fell just before the close of play to end Pakistan’s woes slightly.

Resuming the post lunch session at 65 for 4, Ganguly and Yuvraj fought their way through by playing their natural game. Both left handers went after deliveries that had width and the lose deliveries around the legstump were picked off for runs. They were helped by the fact that Shoaib Akhtar went missing out of the ground as he was taken to a hospital for a MRI Scan on his back. India cashed on that as Yuvraj in particular forcing the Pakistanis to take cover with his breathtaking shots. Ganguly was the steadying factor for India. There were a couple of edges off Yuvraj against Danish Kaneria which failed to be taken at slip. Otherwise there were no other chances that were given by the two left handers. India by Tea were out of trouble as they moved onto 192 for 4 with both Ganguly and Yuvraj into their 60s. The post lunch session was productive with 127 coming in 30 overs without the loss of a wicket.

After Tea, Yuvraj continued with his solid punches and full blooded drives. There were some sweetly timed shots from Ganguly as well but it was Yuvraj who was running away with the game. The Pakistani bowling started to look very ordinary. Yasir Arafat, who had taken three wickets in the first session lacked the stamina to bowl good spells at his top speeds. He was taken to the cleaners every time he was off the target. Danish Kaneria and Mohammad Sami were the only other genuine bowlers left for Younus Khan and those two suffered the same fate. Yuvraj raced away to his 3rd Test Match hundred in just 135 balls. Interestingly all his three centuries have come against Pakistan! There was a fear that Yuvraj could lose his focus after reaching three figures but that wasn’t to be as he just continued with the flow almost flawlessly. Ganguly as well got to his ton and India were riding along beautifully while Pakistan struggled to find the breakthrough. Both lefties had got to their respective 100s with a boundary. For Sourav, it was consecutive centuries in consecutive test matches, a feat that he has repeated after his debut series in England in 1996.

India was just unlucky not to have both Yuvraj and Ganguly turning up tomorrow as the former got dismissed in the 88th over. The second new ball did the trick for Sami as he got one to lift up and seam away around the leg stump. Yuvraj got a leading edge while trying to work that away towards the onside and a simple catch ballooned up to gully. That brought curtains to one of the great knocks, a blinder of an innings full of scintillating shots all around the wicket. Yuvraj smashed his way to 169 in just 203 balls with 28 fours and a six. He had done more than what was expected of him as India at that stage were looking good at 361 for 5. Ganguly (125 from 214 balls with 20 fours) remained unbeaten along with Dinesh Karthik (3 from 10) at stumps as India finished nicely at 365 for 5, a completely different scenario from lunch. India will be looking to stretch their first innings score as much as possible, they still have Irfan Pathan waiting to come in.