Captain Kumble lifted the Indian Oil cup as India won a test series against arch nemesis Pakistan after 29 long years on home soil. But the victory could have been sweeter for the home team had a more sporting declaration and some good weather been a part of the game. But it hard to find fault with the heavens as the same sporting gods saved India from a defeat during the first test against England at Lords. It all evens out at the end of the day, but it still was a memorable day for both captain Kumble and bowler Kumble.
India started the day with an overnight lead that was well over 200 and most expected the home team to declare after an hour of play. But then plans went a touch astray when the perennial under achiever Sami took charge and for once bowled with the venom that is befitting his untapped potential. He bowled with both pace and precision as he bagged the prize wickets of Ganguly, Yuvraj and Karthik; all of whom looked in very good touch.
India started the day at 131-2 and Dravid and Ganguly added another 46 runs before Dravid was sent back by Danish Kaneria for 42. Then man-of-the-match and the player of the series Saurav Ganguly edged one from Sami to the slips when on 91, which made sure that he would not join the elite list of batsmen who scored a double and a century in the same match. Yuvraj soon followed as he fell to another Sami beauty.
Shoaib Akhtar might not have made a great impact in the current series, but he might well have made a big impact for the upcoming Australian series of India as his bouncer made sure Laxman walked back injured. Laxman ducked in to the bouncer that did not really take off on a final day pitch and the elbow injury seems not too nasty. But if it does put Laxman out of action for the Aussie tour, then Ponting might just send a ‘thank you’ note to the Pakistani pace spearhead.
India declared at 284-6 after Karthik fell for a well made 52. Pakistan found it comfortable till tea as they cruised to 23-0 with a draw seeming the only result possible. But then the Indian captain decided to tweak the script a little as he produced an inspired spell of 5-61 and nearly toppled off Pakistan. Kumble started off with the wicket of Yasir Hameed with his trademark quicker one deceiving the batsman. Just 3 balls later Younus Khan was sent back as Kumble caught him off his own bowling by deceiving him in flight.
Then the wickets tumbled as Salman Butt edged one from Anil to Karthik. Misbah once again started his counter attack, standing in between India and victory along with Faisal Iqbal. But it was not to last long as Iqbal played a rash shot against Kumble and Yuvraj accounted for Misbah by pegging back his stumps. Pakistan was soon teetering at 162-7 when bad light saved the day for them. A charged up Jumbo was all set to wipe off the tail in the remaining 13 overs, but play was not possible any further. Pakistan might have escaped with a draw but India clinched the series and in process showed how fragile and weak the current Pakistan line up is.
This was one of the dullest and boringly one-sided Indo-Pak series ever. It lacked the fizz and electricity that one normally associate with the clash of the sub continent giants. It was a memorable series for Saurav Ganguly as he finished ‘Man of the Tournament’ scoring over 500 runs in 3 matches. I was one of the first to feel that Dada’s days of playing test cricket were up but he seems to prove me wrong each time I feel so. But sterner test lies ahead for him and Team India was the head down under. For now they can enjoy the series triumph, but it won’t be long before Ponting’s army would be gunning for them. A 1-0 result in favor of the visitors will do just fine for yours truly, when India try to topple the wizards of oz down under.
Third Test, Bangalore:
India 626 & 284-6 dec drew with Pakistan 537 & 162-7