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Rediff.com  » Sports » Kumble inspires India to victory

Kumble inspires India to victory

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Last updated on: March 20, 2005 16:11 IST

India's ace leg-spinner Anil Kumble ran through the Pakistan middle-order as India cruised to a 195-run victory in the second Test at the Eden Gardens, in Kolkata, on Sunday.

Kumble finished with match figures of 10 for 161, but it was Rahul Dravid who was adjudged the man-of-the-match for his centuries in both innings of the Test.

Dinesh Karthik's superb 93, when India were in a spot of bother at 156 for 4, must also have been in contention for the award. The youngster played out of his skin to ensure India had enough runs to defend when Pakistan came out to bat for the second time in the match.

Morning session

At the start of the final day, theoretically, Pakistan still could win the Test. They had scored 93 for the loss of just one wicket in quick time at the end of day 4.

Their best batsmen were still waiting in the dressing room but, on the flip side, they were chasing a record total of 422 and the fifth day wicket would certainly make things difficult for the batting side.

Kumble gave the day a perfect start by having Younis Khan stumped off the very first ball of the day. A quick delivery down the leg-side caught the Pakistan vice-captain unawares; he over-balanced and Karthik did the rest. (95 for 2)

It was a superb stumping by Karthik and, obviously, the confidence he derived from his batting is helping him in his keeping as well.

Inzamam-ul Haq promoted himself to the number four slot ahead of Yousuf Youhana. The Pakistan skipper decided to lead from the front. He has looked very good in the series so far but today Kumble got him early.

After a 20-run partnership with Umar, Haq pushed out to defend against a quick delivery from the leg-spinner, but left a gap between bat and pad. The ball bounced and then rolled back onto the stumps. And just like that, Haq was gone after scoring 13 and the Indians were jubilant. (115 for 3)

The very next ball, the first of Balaji's new over, had Umar (35) beaten by the late swing. The resultant edge flew straight to Sehwag at second slip. (115 for 4)

The Indian bowlers were on a roll and in just nine overs Pakistan's chances of a win had disappeared. With most of their top order back in the pavilion, they would undoubtedly go for a draw from this point on.

This is exactly the situation Pakistan would have been looking to avoid. The loss of quick wickets gave India a huge confidence boost. But batting was still easy on the wicket

Asim Kamal joined Yousuf Youhana at the wicket and both the batsmen launched a recovery. Their 50-run partnership came off 105 balls and not once was a chance given.

Youhana still looked slightly dodgy but Kamal was in supreme touch.

At lunch, Pakistan were 174 for 4 after 50 overs with Youhana on 20, off 69 balls, and Kamal, on 33 off 56 deliveries.

Post-Lunch session

Runs were not a premium after the break; time spent at the wicket was. In the first six overs just four runs were scored as the Pakistan batsmen tried to settle down for the long haul.

But then just when it looked like they had settled down, Youhana was caught by Gautam Gambhir at short-leg off Kumble. The ball was fired into the leg-stump, it took an inside edge onto the pad and popped up on the leg side where Gambhir, diving forward, took a good catch. Just when everybody thought that the appeal was turned down umpire Bucknor raised his finger. (178 for 5)

The 63-run partnership had given Pakistan some hope after the quick wickets in the morning session.

A point to be noted: just before the ball was bowled Mohammad Kaif was heard exhorting Ganguly to bring in more close-in fielders. At the moment, India had four close-in fielders (first slip, silly point, short-leg and leg-gully) and having more fielders would have only added to the chances of getting a wicket. But Ganguly persisted with the same field, which included fielders at the boundary as well!

Kumble bowled brilliantly to Youhana, conceding only seven runs in 47 balls. When you defend so much against Kumble you are putting a lot of pressure on yourself and, more importantly, you give Kumble a lot of time to work on you. A dangerous combination indeed!

Razzaq walked in next and looked to banish the close-in fielders almost immediately. A huge six off Kumble and he thought he had achieved his purpose but that tuned out to be the only scoring shot of his innings.

A quicker delivery from Kumble stayed low and crashed into the stumps. Razzaq was walking back. (188 for 6)

Akmal, the new man in, didn't last too long either. He was beaten by a brilliant piece of thinking by Harbhajan. The first five balls of the over were orthodox off-spin deliveries, each pitching outside the off stump and turning into the batsman. The final delivery was pitched inside the stump and went straight on with the arm. Akmal played for the turn where there was none and was clean bowled for 7. (203 for 7)

The writing was now on the wall. The match was over for all purposes and only a miracle could save the Pakistanis. But that didn't happen. One couldn't understand why Ganguly still had fielders at the boundary!

The final nail in the coffin was the wicket of Asim Kamal. The left-hander had resisted the Indian bowlers with ease and sported a permanent smile which was in complete contrast to Pakistan's position in the match.

He had just reached 50 when he hit a Kumble delivery to the on side but straight to Mohammad Kaif at short leg. The 144-ball knock was exactly the kind of innings that Pakistan needed but the rest of the batsman had done too little.

At tea, Pakistan were struggling at 223 for 8, still needing 199 to win the Test, with Mohammad Sami on 9 and Mohammad Khalil on 0.

Post-Tea session

Kumble and Harbhajan quickly wrapped the innings after tea, claiming the wickets of Sami and Kaneria respectively.

Sami was trapped leg before the wicket off the first ball of the session by Kumble for 9. (223 for 9)

Three runs later, Kaneria was deceived by Harbhajan's 'doosra' and was clean bowled. India won the match by 195 runs and are now ahead in the three-Test series 1-0.

Kumble bowled brilliantly and ended up with figures of 38-16-63-7. His consistency and stamina throughout the innings was amazing.

The third and final Test of the series will start in Bangalore on March 24.

Ashish Magotra
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