Pakistan under pressure after Ganguly-Pathan fireworks
by AFP

Ground:M Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bangalore
Scorecard:India v Pakistan
Player:Danish Kaneria, Yasir Arafat, IK Pathan, SC Ganguly, Salman Butt
Event:Pakistan in India 2007/08

DateLine: 9th December 2007


Sourav Ganguly and Irfan Pathan posted career-best knocks as India showed their batting prowess to put Pakistan under pressure in the third and final Test here on Sunday.


Ganguly cracked an elegant 239 for a maiden Test double-century and Pathan marked his comeback with an explosive 102 for a first hundred to help India pile up a mammoth 626 in their first innings.


Pakistan made a strong reply as they reached 86-1 at stumps on the second day. Salman Butt was unbeaten with an aggressive 50 and stand-in captain Younis Khan was on seven. They still need 341 more runs to avoid a follow-on.


Left-handed Butt swept leg-spinner Anil Kumble for a ninth four to reach his half-century. He also punished paceman Ishant Sharma, hitting three successive boundaries.


It was India's highest total against Pakistan at home, beating the previous best of 616-5 declared in the second Test of the current series at Kolkata.


Ganguly and Pathan put the Pakistani attack to the sword with thrilling strokeplay on a good batting track, adding 178 for the seventh wicket to ensure the tourists bat under the threat of a follow-on.


The pair also overshadowed Pakistani seamer Yasir Arafat, who finished with five wickets on his Test debut.


"It's one of my best innings. It was very important in the context of the series. The pitch is going to keep low. We are in with a chance (of winning the series)," said former skipper Ganguly.


"I am not captain anymore. There's less to worry about and I can focus on my game. The eight-month absence (last year) from the team allowed me to relax and I learnt to enjoy my cricket. It's very satisfying to make a double-century."


Ganguly, 125 overnight, reached his double-hundred in the afternoon when he drove Arafat through the covers for two runs. His previous best was 173 against Sri Lanka in Mumbai in 1997.


Lower-order batsman Pathan, 23, went on the rampage in his first Test in more than a year as he smashed four sixes and 10 fours in his 133-ball knock.


He needed four runs to complete his century when last-man Sharma joined him, but he did it in style when he hoisted leg-spinner Danish Kaneria for his fourth six.


"I never imagined I will score a hundred in my comeback Test. It is a great feeling to get my first Test century," said Pathan.


"We are in control after the way we have batted for one-and-a-half days. Tomorrow will be very crucial. I think the pitch will break and it will be difficult for batsmen."


It was a frustrating day for Pakistan, who struggled for more than two sessions to claim the remaining five wickets after the hosts had resumed at 365-5. None of their bowlers could keep pressure on Ganguly and Pathan.


Pakistan were a bowler short as paceman Shoaib Akhtar was unable to resume bowling after being off the field for more than a session on Saturday due to back pain. He was not given a single over even when he became eligible to bowl.


Younis was left with only three specialist bowlers but seamers Mohammad Sami and Arafat, and Kaneria were ineffective on an unhelpful wicket.


Ganguly and Pathan made the most of the conditions, reducing the Pakistani bowlers and fielders to a state of helplessness during their big partnership.


Runs came thick and fast when they were at the crease as 96 came off 27 overs in the morning and 150 off 30 in the afternoon.


The 35-year-old Ganguly was bowled attempting to sweep Kaneria in the afternoon session. He struck two sixes off Kaneria and 30 fours in his superb 361-ball knock.


Pakistan got one wicket in the morning when Arafat had Dinesh Karthik (24) caught behind, but not before the batsman had added 66 for the sixth wicket with Ganguly.


Karthik again missed out on a big innings ahead of the Australian tour. He is now under pressure to retain his Test place, having scored 63 in five innings against the tourists.

(Article: Copyright © 2007 AFP)


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