Pakistan take charge of decisive India Test
by AFP

Ground:National Stadium, Karachi
Player:Mohammad Asif, Salman Butt, Imran Farhat
Event:India in Pakistan 2005/06

DateLine: 30th January 2006


Pakistan's young guns outperformed India's star-studded tourists to help the hosts seize the advantage in the third and final cricket Test here on Monday.


Pakistan ended the second day's play leading by 180 runs with eight wickets in hand and well-placed to call the shots in the series decider at the National stadium.


Seamer Mohammad Asif claimed four wickets and Abdul Razzaq took three as India, replying to Pakistan's first innings total of 245, were bowled out for 238 midway through the afternoon session.


Pakistan ended the day on 173-2 following half-centuries from Salman Butt (53) and Imran Farhat (57) during a first-wicket stand of 109.


Both openers fell within the space of 23 runs, but stand-in captain Younis Khan (25 not out) and Mohammad Yousuf (30 not out) ensured Pakistan did not let the initiative slip away.


Pakistan, without their inspirational skipper Inzamam-ul Haq due to a back injury, still played the better cricket when it mattered most to gain the upper hand.


India's famed batting line-up was destroyed by 23-year-old Asif, playing only his third Test match, who finished with 4-78. Razzaq had figures of 3-67 while pace spearhead Shoaib Akhtar took 2-70 from 16 overs.


India, who started the day on 74-4, lost three key wickets in the morning session to go to lunch on a shaky 169-7.


The overnight pair of Sourav Ganguly and Yuvraj Singh put on 81 for the fifth wicket until Razzaq finally broke through an hour and 20 minutes after the start.


Former skipper Ganguly, now fighting to keep his place in the Indian team, hit six boundaries in his 34 but then top-edged a hook off Razzaq to Asif on the fine-leg fence.


Asif himself was rewarded for a steady opening spell when he trapped Yuvraj leg-before for a fluent 45 that included eight fours.


Three balls later, Razzaq had second Test centurion Mahendra Dhoni edging a catch to the wicket-keeper as India slipped from a promising 137-4 to 165-7.


India's Irfan Pathan, who took a hat-trick in the opening over of the match on Sunday, followed his five-wicket haul with an aggressive 40 with the bat.


India were reduced to 181-8 before Pathan and Zaheer Khan helped the tourists close the gap by adding 56 for the ninth wicket.


Pathan, who hit six boundaries and a six, fell with the total on 237 when he skied Shahid Afridi to Mohammad Yousuf at long-off.


Two runs later, Zaheer was caught behind off Asif for 21 to terminate the innings.


There was no indication of the problems to come when Ganguly and Yuvraj coolly negotiated the seaming ball in the first hour, which produced 62 runs off 12 overs.


Ganguly contributed 24 of those runs and Yuvraj's share was 20 as the two batsmen played each ball on merit and did not hesitate to punish wayward deliveries.


Ganguly crashed Akhtar past point and drove Asif twice through the covers. At the other end Yuvraj cut and drove Akhtar for two boundaries.


The first two Tests in Lahore and Faisalabad ended in high-scoring draws.

(Article: Copyright © 2006 AFP)


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