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Yuvraj props India with gutsy ton
Ashish Magotra |
April 05, 2004 10:16 IST
Last Updated: April 05, 2004 19:01 IST
Scoreboard | Images day 1
Medium pacer Umar Gul claimed five wickets to put Pakistan on top at close of play on the first day of the second Test against India on Monday.
He exploited the conditions to claim the prized wickets of Virender Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman, Rahul Dravid and Parthiv Patel to help dismiss India for 287.
The total would have been even smaller but for a brilliant 112 by Yuvraj Singh, his maiden century in Tests.
When stumps were drawn for the day, Pakistan had reached 61 for the loss of Taufeeq Umar's wicket.
Imran Farhat, 25, and Yasir Hameed, 4, were at the crease.
India skipper Rahul Dravid won the toss and elected to bat on a pitch that afforded some sideways movement to the Pakistan bowlers in the first hour.
India made only one change to their starting eleven, Ajit Agarkar coming in for the injured Zaheer Khan.
Pakistan, plagued by injuries, played Kamran Akmal for injured wicket-keeper Moin Khan. Changes were also enforced in the pace and spin department. Leg-spinner Danish Kaneria replaced off-spinner Saqlain Mushtaq while Umar Gul took the place of the injured Shabbir Ahmed. Asif Kamal also forced his way into the team in place of Abdul Razzaq as Pakistan looked to strengthen their batting.
Morning session (24 overs - 107 runs, 4 wkts)
There was consistent movement for the fast bowlers both off the wicket and in the air. So India's decision was brave and keeping in line with their stance throughout the tour. But only time will tell whether it was imprudent too.
With the Pakistan bowlers getting movement, discretion needed to be the better part of valour by the Indian openers.
Inzamam started off with a conservative field -- three slips and a gully -- even though the conditions were in favour of the home side at the empty Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore.
Virender Sehwag and Akash Chopra, in seven Tests together, always managed to put on at least a 35-run partnership in the first innings. A measure of the duo's success together and it was vital for the Pakistanis to make an early breakthrough if they wanted to put any sort of pressure on India.
A disappointing crowd at Multan and again today at Lahore meant that Pakistan have almost never really had the advantage of playing at home. Crowd support can do wonders for a team that is looking for inspiration, but so far empty stands have greeted the hosts in the Test matches.
Chopra edged the first ball for four in the third man region and almost immediately the movement available to the bowlers was evident. It was clear that the bowlers, if they stuck to a good line and length, would have a greater say in the proceedings.
Mohammad Sami struck in the second over when he trapped Chopra leg before the wicket. The ball hurried onto the batsman and even before his bat came down, it hit his pad. (5-1)
For the first time in his Test career, Chopra (4) was dismissed below 25 in the first innings of a Test. The Indian middle-order was now treading new ground.
But with 309 runs behind him, nothing could faze Sehwag. He continued to bat as he always does -- in an attacking mode. India's 50 came off just 57 balls – even quicker than at Multan.
Gul's introduction into the attack seemed to work for Inzamam. After Akhtar and Sami had been hammered, the Pakistan skipper turned to the swing and seam bowling of Gul.
Gul had lesser pace than his two senior fast bowlers but greater control and that saw him strike twice in consecutive overs.
First, Sehwag (39 off 43 balls) was caught in two minds -- go hard or defend. In the end he ended up doing neither and the defensive push saw him edging the ball Akmal, who made no mistake.
Sachin Tendulkar was in next. His 194 in the last Test was an innings of controlled genius. India needed more of that, but he floundered in the face of Gul's disciplined bowling. The medium pacer was getting the ball to move both ways off the wicket without any perceptible change in action.
The batsmen were caught guessing time and again. The same happened to Tendulkar. A good length ball pitched outside the off stump and moved in with the angle to rap Tendulkar on his pads even as he was on the move. (75-3)
Laxman (11) departed soon after adding 19 runs with Dravid. Gul did the damage once again. The medium-pacer ended the session with figures of 7-2-14-3. He gave no loose deliveries to the Indians and wickets were his reward.
At lunch, India were on 107 for the loss of four wickets. Yuvraj Singh, 6, and Rahul Dravid, 27, were attempting a fightback for the visitors.
Post-Lunch session (27 overs - 127 runs, 3 wickets)
The Pakistani players trooped out to the wicket with confidence written all over them. It was the look of a team in charge; a team that was at peace with themselves.
Gul continued in the same vein, bowling a probing line outside the off-stump and getting the ball to cut both ways. Once a bowler is able to do that, a batsman's best hope is to somehow survive the session.
Dravid tried to do that but failed. An outswinger lured him into the drive and Umar got his fourth wicket of the innings. Inzamam, at first slip, took a good, low catch and India were in deep trouble. (125-5)
It only got worse two runs later when Parthiv Patel was dismissed for a duck. The left-hander offered no shot to a ball that pitched in line with his off-stump and came back in. Gul had claimed the last five wickets to get his first five-for in Tests.
India seemed to be crumbling when Akhtar dismissed Ajit Agarkar (2) to claim his first wicket of the innings. (147-7)
At the other end, Yuvraj was in no trouble whatsoever. Powerful sweeps from his bat followed elegant drives through the covers. The left-hander decided that attack is indeed the best form of defense. Runs started to come quickly. And Pakistan were now starting to miss Gul. The medium pacer was forced to go off the wicket after suffering a hamstring injury. Sami, his replacement in the attack, did not look threatening nor could he keep the runs down.
Suddenly things just settled down. Pakistan's intensity level dipped alarmingly. The ball stopped doing much and the bowlers suffered.
Irfan Pathan batted with tremendous restraint and application. Watching Yuvraj going great guns at the other end, it would have been very easy to see the young bowler do the same.
But Irfan stuck to his guns. He faced most of the deliveries with a straight bat, but when the opportunity arose had a go.
The partnership went from strength to strength and when tea was called India were 234 for the loss of seven wickets. Yuvraj was not out on a brilliant 85, off just 96 balls. Giving him company was Pathan, on a well-made 33.
Post-Tea (India: 13.1 overs -- 53 runs, 3 wickets)
Yuvraj and Irfan continued along merrily. Playing their strokes with aplomb and ease, the duo continued to frustrate the Pakistani bowlers.
A straight six by Irfan off Kaneria showed how the young bowler is gaining in confidence. He has started to play his shots while earlier he was content on just defending.
With the total on 258 for 7, Yuvraj was put down on 97. The inexperience of young wicket-keeper Kamran Akmal showed as he overshot the ball in his eagerness to get to it. A close shave for Yuvraj and India.
The Pakistan bowlers, with the exception of Gul, lacked energy, to put it mildly. Akhtar ran in off a shortened run-up when he should have been charging in and trying to gain psychological points against Irfan, at the very least. Sami sprayed the ball all over the place and was smashed for 19 boundaries.
The freedom with which Irfan stroked the ball eventually brought about his downfall. He tried to hit one shot too many and smashed the ball straight back to Kaneria, who made no mistake and put an end to a fighting knock of 49. (264-8)
The 117-run partnership had guided India from the brink of disaster to a respectable position. The pitch would be best for batting on day 2 and 3 and every run that India could add to their total would be welcome.
Lakshmipathy Balaji's batting in the ODIs was a revelation but he did not last too long. One run was added to the total before the right-hander was heading back to the pavilion. (265-9)
Anil Kumble then gamely stuck around to add 22 runs for the last wicket before Yuvraj holed out in the deep after scoring a superb 112.
His knock was the cornerstone of the Indian innings. Even as the other batsman struggled, Yuvraj stroked the ball with confidence and power. His shots spoke of the true class of his batsmanship.
India were all out for 287, a far cry after being seven down for 147. For the first time in the last seven Tests, India were dismissed short of the 350 mark in the first innings.
The Indian innings was disappointing mainly because of the way the top order batsmen were dismissed -- playing shots outside the off-stump when they needed to be more circumspect. But that's the beauty of Test cricket!
Pakistan innings (23 overs – 61 runs, 1 wicket)
The most important thing for the Pakistani openers was to survive and keep their wickets intact. That's what both Imran Farhat and Taufeeq Umar tried to do. Pathan and Balaji got the ball to swing but they stood firm. They stuck to a plan and refrained from playing shots outside the off-stump.
Pathan was miserly in his first spell, which extended to eight overs. He conceded only four runs and bowled three maidens but a wicket eluded him.
Agarkar was introduced after Balaji failed to impress early on. But the Mumbai medium pacer, making his return to the squad after injury, was taken to the cleaners by both openers.
Balaji was brought back into the attack. The change worked for India and Dravid. An inswinging delivery beat Umar through movement in the air and off the wicket. The opener was clean bowled through the space between the bat and pad. (47-1)
That was the only success India tasted in the day as Farhat and Yasir Hameed, the new batsman, shut shop and played out the remaining overs.
Pakistan ended the day on 61 for the loss of one wicket and are poised to take charge of the Test on Day two. Farhat, 25, and Hameed, 4, were at the crease.
The Indians will need to strike early on Day 2 if they want to get back into the match. It will be important for the seamers to take as many wickets in the first session while moisture is still there in the wicket.