India went ahead to lead the three Test match series against Pakistan by winning with a margin of six wickets on the final day of the first Test match at Feroz Shah Kotla Stadium in Delhi on Monday, November 26, 2007. The advantage lay with India right from the beginning, with an intelligently designed and effectively executed game plan whereas Pakistan failed in both of these departments miserably. After winning the toss and choosing to bat first, Pakistan was reduced to 210 for 8 wickets by the end of the day, all credits to an amateurish approach of Pakistani batsmen as far as application was concerned. Misbah-ul-Haq was the sole exception, who rescued Pakistani batting from caving in after being 8 wickets down for 142 runs. His exquisitely mature knock of 71 runs with a stable Mohammad Sami at the other end helped safely cross the 200-mark on the first day. Kumble was in his elements on the first day, with a superb line and length, which not only helped him with 4 wickets but also kept Pakistani batting on a leash, of course with good support from Harbhajan and Zaheer Khan.
Second day, however, proved to be another day, with India doing no better than its counterpart in the batting department. Indian openers Wasim Jaffer and Karthik falling prey to the deceptive pace of Shoaib Akhtar early in the innings. Soon, Tendulkar and Ganguly also departed in quick succession without making much impact. India now desperately needed a sheet-anchor and Rahul Dravid fit in the role perfectly but only until he was done in by a beauty from Sohail Tanvir. It was now VVS Laxman who saw India through the day and compensated for the breach of "the Wall." Dhoni and Laxman chipped in with a 115 run partnership at this crucial stage with a sensible 57-run knock to the credit of Dhoni. Kumble did not fail to support the Test veteran from the other end effectively. India closed the day at 228 runs for 6 wickets in 63.2 overs.
India ended up gathering a meager lead of 45 runs against Pakistan in the first innings even as Pakistan seemed determined to compensate for the mistakes committed in the first innings. Beginning with a solid opening partnership of 71 runs between Salman Butt and Yasir Hameed, Kumble again came up with an inspired spell of bowling and wiped off Pakistan top order which, at one point of time, threatened to take the game out of India's reach. Sensing blood, Harbhajan made further inroads in the Pakistani middle order and fetched the crucial wickets of Mohammad Yousuf and Shoaib Malik, which shocked the rest of the Pakistani innings into gradual deterioration. Misbah-ul-Haq again fit in the role of sheet anchor for Pakistan and instilled some sense of stability in the innings helping Pakistan end up at 212 for 5 wickets at the end of the third day.
After wrapping up the Pakistani second innings for 247 runs on the fourth day, India required only 203 runs to secure victory for a morale boosting 1-up lead in the three Test match series. Shoaib Akhtar was again in a lethal form, striking in the form of Wasim Jaffer who edged one off to Kamran Akmal in the first over itself. Indian top order, nonetheless, seemed to be in no hurry to achieve the goal even as Wasim Jaffer and Rahul Dravid proceeded to build up an 83-run partnership for the 2nd wicket, which put India on its way to victory. The fury of Shoaib Akhtar could also not be contained for long and both of the players were done in by a brilliant display of bowling by the speedster. With Tendulkar and Ganguly taking over from here on, India never cared to look back with Pakistani bowling proving to be incapable of getting another breakthrough at this crucial juncture. With victory in sight, the game for the day was closed, however, due to poor light. But that was only for the glory to descend on India under a glorious Sun on the next day. India closed the day with 171 for 3 wickets at the end of 54.5 overs.
The final day of the first Test battle began but with little hope for the Pakistan to make any impression, with India requiring merely 32 runs to score with 7 wickets and a whole day to spare for the proceedings. Hoping against hope for a miracle, Pakistan got a temporary reprieve with the wicket of Sourav Ganguly, who, sensing victory close at hand, could not contain himself and top edged Shoaib Akhtar only to be caught at fine leg by Sohail Tanvir. The writing on the wall was, however, to clear to read as VVS Laxman came in and simply stayed at the crease till the end to savor the fast approaching moment of victory. Tendulkar, on the other hand, remained unbeaten at 56 on the crease having already displaced Allan Border from the position of second highest test run getter ever after the genius of Brian Lara. The first test proved to be a good test of bench strength for both the sides and hopefully both the sides would learn from the mistakes made at Kotla, although India made few of them to begin with. With this victory, India gained a lead of 1-0 in the three Test match series against Pakistan but any calculations based on the result could prove to be deceptive as unpredictability is an inextricable element from the phenomenon of India-Pakistan cricket.
Last Updated on 24 August 2012