Despite winning the current Test match series against Pakistan by 1-0, India missed a golden opportunity to seal another historic victory when all the dramatic twists and turns still culminated in a draw in the third and final Test match between India and Pakistan at the Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore on Wednesday, December 12, 2007. When Pakistan was asked to chase a target of 374 in merely 47 overs on the 5th day, the match seemed to be heading for an all-too obvious draw. However, what followed next was more of a cricketing fable as Indian bowlers struck gold by grabbing 7 wickets in the span of 36 overs thus opening up the exciting possibility of squeezing a morale-boosting last-minute win. Team India seemed to be on its edge to grab those last three souvenirs of victory when the umpires decided to add yet another twist in the story by calling off play temporarily due to bad light. Pakistani batsmen were all too glad to find a safe route back to the dressing room but shoulders drooped on the Indian side who knew that for all practical purposes the match was over. Their fears were soon confirmed by the umpires when the match was declared drawn. Still, the series victory against Pakistan at home was a special achievement, which, coming after 27 years, did not fail to establish the supremacy of Indian cricketing warriors over Pakistan.
On the first day, India almost rued the decision to bat first after winning the toss, as Pakistan made early inroads which left India teetering at the score of 61 for the loss of 4 wickets before lunch. Yasir Arafat was the one who made all the difference for Pakistan by grabbing the priceless wickets of Wasim Jaffer, Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman with Mohammad Sami providing good support in the form of Gambhir's wicket. Recovering from the initial shock, Ganguly and Yuvraj came together to lay the foundation of a memorable win against Pakistan. Pakistani bowlers looked totally unprepared for the brutal assault unleashed on them by Indian cricketing warriors. Ganguly seemed to be at his subtle best as he cut and drove quite a few flawlessly bowled beauties to the fence in almost every direction. Yuvraj was not to be left behind as he started to take the attack on to the opposition by adding another unusual century to his credit. With Shoaib Akhtar out of the attack due to back injury, Pakistan struggled to find the elusive answer to the Indian display of batting superiority. Finally, Pakistan got a little reprieve when Mohammad Sami managed to get an edge off Yuvraj lapped up by Iqbal just before the end of the day. The proverbial breakthrough was, however, too late in the day to repair the damage already inflicted in the form of a 300-run stand for the 5th wicket with Ganguly remaining unbeaten at 112 and Yuvraj departing with a glorious 169 off just 250 balls.
Pakistan was perhaps hoping that tomorrow is always another day, so they might be able to begin a new quest for victory and succeed as well but Indians had already set their mind on the task. On the second day, Pakistan took heart in the early wicket of Karthik who gave in for a meagre 24, but soon it proved to be the only consolation for the visiting side, as Pathan and Ganguly made mincemeat of an all-too starved Pakistani bowling attack. In the process, Ganguly unassumingly piled up one record after another with his exquisite display of batting and by the time he got past his maiden Test double ton, the stadium had erupted in a frenzy. India was on fire, no doubt, and with Pathan and Ganguly calling all the shots, Pakistan was desperately seeking a hideout to save their skin. With a maiden Pathan century around the corner, Pakistan suddenly struck back with Danish Kaneria bowling in Ganguly to send him packing as a double centurion. Skipper Kumble, however, chose not to call it a day and went full length as Indian wickets fell in a tizzy with Pathan managing to score his maiden Test century. India lost all the wickets at the score of 626 which was a commendable score to end up with. In the last session of the day, Pakistan came out on the field and batted with extreme caution but lost the wicket of Yasir Hameed for a meagre 19 before closing the day at cricket score 86 runs for 1 wicket.
Third day turned out to be another day, however, as Pakistan staged a partial comeback in the game despite losing 4 wickets in the day, all credits to a determined partnership between Misbah-ul-Haq and Kamran Akmal. Pakistan began the day in a jittery way, as it lost a well-settled Salman Butt on a slower one by Ganguly followed by the wickets of Younis Khan and Mohammad Yousuf in quick succession after one another. Skipper Younis did not fail to set an example for his teammates with a gutsy knock of 80 runs but Mohammad Yousuf left with an undeserving score of 24 to his credit. Faisal Iqbal tried his best to play a stable innings but an all-too defensive approach costed him nothing less than his wicket for merely 22 which proved to be a blessing in disguise by paving the way for a great rescue act by Misbah and Akmal. While Misbah took the onus of trying to stabilize the innings with more or less of a defensive stance, Akmal decided to score a few quick runs and was amply rewarded too. Misbah innings breathed a new life in Pakistan's effort by displaying a rare combination of grit and caution in his flawless batting. As a result, Pakistan ended up at a cricketing score of 369 runs for 5 wickets with only 58 runs more required to avoid the follow-on. Pakistan had succeeded in balancing the scales against India to an extent which was quite an achievement for the day.
Pakistan started out cautiously on the fourth day, striving to build upon the foundation laid by Akmal and Misbah the day before. After making a gritty contribution of 65 runs, Kamran Akmal made his way back to the pavilion early in the day. Yasir Arafat came in next and did not fail to leave an impression with the bat, almost scoring his debut half-century before Indian debutant Ishant Sharma bowled him out at 44 for joys of the first kind on the home side. The celebrations were, however, not meant to stop so soon as Ishant went ahead to pick 5 wickets for an economy of 3.55 to make for a memorable debut. The cup of woes for India was, nonetheless, full by now as Pakistan had consumed more than half of the day playing out a more or less inconsequential first innings while slimming the lead for India to a mere 89 runs and avoiding the follow-on. India was taken in by the gamble as a draw seemed to be close at hand. Starting to bat their second innings late in the day, India also lost a couple of quick wickets to Pakistan's joy and ended the day at the cricket score of 131 runs.
The final day began in a more or less composed manner as India played out its chances knowing well in advance that the chances of avoiding a draw were miniscule. Dravid and Ganguly had started enjoying their stay at the crease as Ganguly closed in on another milestone of a century for him but the Pakistani bowlers struck back and claimed both of their wickets in successive overs. In came VVS Laxman, who unfortunately had to retire hurt which looked like an ominous sign for India but with Karthik and Pathan playing out their chances boldly taking India's lead past 300 mark. Karthik scored his debut half-century before Arafat sent him back to the pavilion bringing up India's declaration as well. Pakistan started their improbable chase of 374 runs in 47 overs with Yasir Hameed displaying a sense of semblance as Salman Butt and Younis Khan were bundled out for inconsequential scores. The agenda for Pakistan was, however, not to score the runs but stay at the crease to last the day but Kumble persisted in his efforts to rock the opponent boat by picking up wickets at regular intervals. After bowling out Yasir Hammed, Kumble seemed to hit a dry patch as Faisal Iqbal and Misbah-Ul-Haq started working on another Pakistan rescue act, but as soon as Pakistan scoreboard read 144, Kumble struck double time and claimed the crucial wickets of Faisal Iqbal and Kamran Akmal on successive balls. Spurred on by the unexpected string of successes, Yuvraj pitched in to pick the wickets of Misbah and Yasir Arafat with a brilliant spell before bad light played spoilsport and stopped the play. Indians were well-aware that it was all over and they might have to wait till the next time for the victory they were about to achieve on this historic ground of Bangalore. The match was soon declared drawn with India winning the series against Pakistan by 1-0. No matter if two matches were drawn, but the dominating Indian batting attack in each of the Test matches plus a last-minute close brush with defeat in the last match would not be much of a solace for Pakistan. The subcontinental rivals, however, lived upto their reputation of putting up a few enigmatic battles of the cricketing kind.
Last Updated on 24 August 2012