Inzy eats the cake and icing in milestone Test

IT was in a moment of despair that he somehow seemed to grow larger in the cricketing arena. Amidst excruciating tension and with tea approaching, when Asim Kamal spilled Sachin Tendulkar at short-leg, the captain sunk on his knees and looked towards the skies.

S. Dinakar

The curtain fell this way with L. Balaji being adjudged legbefore by umpire Simon Taufel off Danish Kaneria.-AP

IT was in a moment of despair that he somehow seemed to grow larger in the cricketing arena. Amidst excruciating tension and with tea approaching, when Asim Kamal spilled Sachin Tendulkar at short-leg, the captain sunk on his knees and looked towards the skies. And soon the cricketers walked towards the pavilion. Heading the bunch and towering over it, his grim bearded visage reflecting a steely resolve, Inzamam-ul-Haq appeared a leader of men... more than ever before. The image was stark and very real.

Pakistan faced a must win situation, and by reprieving Tendulkar the side could have grassed the opportunity to level the series. When the Pakistanis returned for a final fling at the Indians, there was Inzamam striding towards Mohammed Sami — the bowler to suffer when Kamal missed — putting a comforting arm around him and egging him on. Soon the fiery paceman crashed through Dinesh Kaarthick's defence with a vicious reverse swinging delivery and Pakistan was back in the hunt.

Earlier in the day, Inzamam had, in a rare display of emotions, continued to appeal vociferously for a caught behind verdict against Virender Sehwag, and when the shout was negated, was barely able to conceal his anger. Passions ruled on the decisive Monday at the Chinnaswamy Stadium, and Inzamam was no exception. He was subsequently banned for a Test and fined 30 per cent of his match fee for excessive appealing and a show of dissent, but Inzamam would not mind it. While he would not want to trespass the laws of the game again, Inzamam would certainly like to stay assertive on the field. In Pakistan a year ago, he had seemed a distant, silent, forlorn figure, who faced a rebellion from his pace spearhead Shoaib Akhtar. That was a time when he was a rather one-dimensional captain who often allowed the game to drift. In Bangalore, he was very much a man of raw emotions who desperately wanted to win on the last day of the series.

This was Inzamam's 100th Test, and he had on the opening day of the Test carved out a sublime 184. For a big-made man, he has delicate touch and extraordinary timing. And at the end of the long and rather dramatic last day at the Chinnaswamy Stadium, he smiled and danced for joy.

Pakistan, in a pulsating finish to the third Test, levelled the TVS Cup series 1-1, with just 6.1 mandatory overs remaining. Not fancied at the beginning of the series, Inzamam's side without Akhtar had bucked the odds in a performance that dripped with character.

The turning point in the Indian second innings: Virender Sehwag is run out.-K. MURALI KUMAR

India, set a target of 383, had whittled it down to 358 by close on the fourth day. On the final day, the host ran out of steam after Abdul Razzaq scored a direct hit from mid-on to run-out Virender Sehwag. Like always, the pressure was back on the Indians after the sensational opener's departure.

There was assistance for the Pakistani spinners on a wearing dry last day surface that sported a couple of cracks, but the Indians did not help their cause by resorting to overly defensive tactics following Sehwag's dismissal before lunch.

That the side could not even last two full sessions with nine wickets remaining does not reflect well on a celebrated batting line-up. The home side allowed the Pakistanis to dominate them psychologically and there were occasions when Inzamam, who rotated the bowlers intelligently in the decisive post-tea session, had seven fielders hovering around the bat. As India got more defensive, Pakistan tried out a variety of attacking options. India, under stress with close catchers in place, the ball spinning, and shouts of `howzzat' rending the air, finally succumbed.

Inzamam shuffled his bowlers around intelligently, switching the ends of his spinners Danish Kaneria, Shahid Afridi and Arshad Khan. There was bounce and turn for leggie Kaneria, a talented bowler. Afridi, who sent down both leg-spin and off-spin, achieved some bite off the surface and offie Arshad was steady. Inzamam used Sami's extra pace and reverse swing cleverly. Sami also tested the Indian batsmen with some mean short-pitched deliveries.

Kaneria, who registered his second five-wicket haul in the series during the Indian first innings where he bamboozled the Indian captain Sourav Ganguly with a googly, bowled with an incisive blend of cunning and craft. He is among the few leg-spinners who have troubled the Indian batsmen in sub-continental conditions. Where the illustrious Abdul Qadir failed, Kaneria has succeeded.

Indeed for Ganguly, who is now level with Sunil Gavaskar and Mohammed Azharuddin, all having led India in 47 Tests, the match was a disaster. He appeared to be consumed by self-doubts at the crease, his footwork was tentative, and he departed early in both the innings when runs were needed from him. Ganguly appeared so much out of touch that it did not appear that he would last at the wicket. It was a different story for Inzmam, who dictated the course of the game once he won the toss.

On day one, the crowd at the Chinnaswamy Stadium erupted as Inzamam-ul-Haq turned Irfan Pathan to reach the three-figure mark. Walking in with Pakistan at seven for two, Inzamam assumed control. The feature of the 35-year-old batsman's 21st century was the manner he found the gaps, whether driving the ball between point and cover, or flicking between square-leg and mid-wicket.

Sourav Ganguly and Inzamam-ul-Haq share the trophy.-K. BHAGYA PRAKASH

The Pakistan skipper got to his half-century in 85 balls, cover-drivng Harbhajan. Inzamam lofted Kumble over long-on and then square-cut the bowler to move into his 90s and soon arrived his century in only 131 balls; he clearly changed gears during his second fifty. This was an extraordinary effort.

Younis, who in his epic first innings 267, had constructed the highest Test score by a visiting batsman in India, suffered in comparison to Inzamam's blissful strokeplay, but did essay some forceful strokes through the off-side, between point and cover. He got to his eighth Test hundred in 211 deliveries with an edged stroke off Kumble, and was hard-pressed to contain his joy.

Younis carried on and discovered greater powers of concentration within himself. Without the grace and elegance of an Inzamam-ul-Haq, the 27-year-old Younis banked strongly on his temperament and judicious shot selection. His defence might have seemed ungainly on occasions but his methods were effective. This was by a distance his longest Test innings. He had arrived at crease after just seven deliveries had been sent down in the innings, and he departed to a rousing standing ovation, the ninth batsman out well into the post-tea session on the second day.

During his second innings unbeaten 84 when Pakistan sought quick runs, he used to sweep to good effect, once even reverse sweeping Anil Kumble, operating from round the wicket to the cover-point fence.

Pakistan, ahead by 121 runs in the first innings, had been frustrated by the last wicket pair of V. V. S. Laxman and Anil Kumble who batted for nearly 90 minutes adding 53 valuable runs. Pakistan required an electric start, and Afridi's blitzkrieg regained some lost ground for Pakistan.

Younis Khan, the Man of the Match.-AFP

He is a Pathan from the mountains, who loves to give the ball a thump. Afridi produced several booming strokes, driving, lofting, cutting and pulling, and leaving the Indian attack in disarray. Afridi was well on course to breaking Jacques Kallis' Test record 24-ball half-century, missed it by a whisker yet his 26-ball 50 is the quickest by an Asian.

For India, apart from Sehwag's double hundred and Laxman's responsible unbeaten 79, there were no notable knock in the first innings and the lack of a collective effort hurt the side. In the second innings, excluding Gautam Gambhir's half century and a defiant unbeaten 37 by Anil Kumble, braving a knee injury, little went right for the Indian team.

Among the few gains, Harbhajan Singh, reported ahead of the Test for a suspect action, resorted to the reliable method of flight and deception on the second day. But for the occasional doosra, he banked on his off-spin and an often teasing off-stump line. It was a creditable display by him in a trying situation, and he was rightly slower through the air. He scalped six batsmen on day two.

This was a Test where Sachin Tendulkar, who missed out on a start in the first innings, went past Sunil Gavaskar's tally of 10,122 runs for the most runs by an Indian in Tests. Sadly, from an Indian perspective, he ended up on the losing side. India went down again at a venue that is jinked — the host has lost four of its last five Tests at the Chinnaswamy Stadium. It was also here in 1987 that Pakistan scripted its first Test series victory in the country under Imran Khan.

Virender Sehwag was adjudged the Man of the Series, and Younis Khan was the Man of the Match.

Pakistan rediscovered passion, its driving force. The side also found its winning ways.

Scoreboard — — Total 570 (for two wkts. decl.) 261 — — Total 449 214 — — Pak<%/TD> Ind Pak Ind (I)<%/TD> (I) (II) (II) 1st 4 98 91 87 2nd 7 172 183 108 3rd 331 257 118 4th 415 337 127 5th 428 343 135 6th 446 374 164 7th 504 386 164 8th 565 388 189 9th 569 396 210