India keep victory hopes alive
by AFP

Ground:Eden Gardens, Kolkata
Scorecard:India v Pakistan
Player:Misbah-ul-Haq, Mohammad Sami, Danish Kaneria, Harbhajan Singh, W Jaffer
Event:Pakistan in India 2007/08

DateLine: 3rd December 2007


Wasim Jaffer hit a brisk half-century as India kept alive their hopes of forcing a win in the second Test against Pakistan here on Monday.


The opener followed his first-innings 202 with 56 to help the hosts reach 141-2 in their second innings for an overall lead of 301 at stumps on the penultimate day.


India, leading 1-0 in the three-Test series, shuffled their batting order to gather quick runs in a bid to set a testing fourth-innings target for Pakistan on the fifth and final day.


Hard-hitting Mahendra Singh Dhoni (28) and Sourav Ganguly (24), who were promoted in the batting order, were at the crease when bad light stopped play.


In-form Jaffer showed the way with a 75-run stand for the opening wicket with Dinesh Karthik (28). Dhoni and Ganguly then kept the momentum as India made 121 in the closing 29 overs.


Pakistan will need to bat more than two sessions on a last-day pitch on Tuesday if India declare their second innings closed during the morning session.


Misbah-ul-Haq earlier gave Pakistan a lifeline when he remained unbeaten with a gutsy 161 to help his side avoid a follow-on.


The middle-order batsman showed remarkable determination and concentration under pressure, forcing India to bat again in the match when he had only tailenders to give him company.


Needing 417 to avert the follow-on, Pakistan were a shaky 358-6 at stumps on Sunday, but achieved their objective in the morning when Misbah turned part-time seamer Ganguly to square-leg for two runs.


The 33-year-old Misbah, playing only his ninth Test, faced 351 balls and cracked a six off spinner Harbhajan Singh and 14 fours in his maiden century. He added 53 to his overnight score of 108.


Pakistan were bowled out for 456 in the afternoon in reply to India's first-innings total of 616-5 declared, with Misbah and Sami adding 91 crucial runs for the seventh wicket.


India needed early wickets to put Pakistan under pressure, but had to wait for more than a session before tasting the first success.


Skipper Anil Kumble kept rotating his bowlers to break the Misbah-Sami stand, but it was part-time spinner Venkatsai Laxman who provided the breakthrough.


When Laxman had Sami (38) caught by Jaffer at mid-off, Pakistan had already averted the follow-on. Sami struck a six off leg-spinner Kumble and two fours.


Nothing went right for India in the first session as their bowlers failed to trouble Misbah and Sami on an easy-paced track. The hosts also missed an opportunity to get an early wicket.


Sami was on seven when Rahul Dravid dropped a catch at slip, the unfortunate bowler being Kumble. He went on to provide valuable support to Misbah with his disciplined knock.


India then made short work of Pakistan's innings, grabbing the remaining three wickets in the space of seven runs. The last three batsmen failed to open their accounts.


Harbhajan finished with 5-122, his 20th haul of five or more wickets in a Test innings. Kumble took three wickets.


West Indies umpire Billy Doctrove was off the field for an hour in the morning after feeling unwell. He was replaced with third-umpire Amish Saheba of India.

(Article: Copyright © 2007 AFP)


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