Vol. 5 Num 289 Sun. March 20, 2005  

India v Pakistan 2005

Classy Dravid sets up Eden for grand finale

Pakistan made a bold attempt to chase a stiff 422-run target for vic-tory in the second Test against an India inspired by Rahul Dravid at the Eden Gardens here on Saturday.

Shahid Afridi smashed a run-a-ball 59 and Taufeeq Umar an unbeaten 29 as Pakistan reached 95-1 at stumps on the penultimate day. Younis Khan had yet to score.

Dravid, 32, earlier completed a century in each innings of a Test as India posted 407-9 declared on top of a first-innings lead of 14.

The stage is set for an exciting final day on Sunday. Pakistan now need 327 more runs in 90 overs on a slow turning track where the odd ball kept a little low.

Only three teams -- the West Indies (2003), India (1976) and Australia (1948) -- have so far scored more than 400 in the fourth innings to win a Test in the history of the game.

Afridi hit two sixes and nine fours to give his team a brisk start, putting on 93 for the opening wicket with Umar.

India heaved a sigh of relief when Afridi was caught by Sourav Ganguly at fine leg while trying to sweep leg-spinner Anil Kumble in the penultimate over of the day.

The hosts were indebted to Dravid for setting a challenging target as the stylish batsman followed his first-innings 110 with a chanceless 135.

This was only the sixth instance in Indian cricket that a batsman had scored a hundred in each innings of a match. Sunil Gavaskar did it three times, Dravid twice and Vijay Hazare once.

Dravid's 20th Test hundred in 88 matches came just when his team needed a long innings.

India were in trouble in the morning but Dravid came to the rescue with a 165-run stand for the fifth wicket with young Dinesh Karthik, who cracked a career-best 93.

The hosts lost captain Ganguly after adding just 21 to their overnight total of 133-3 and then saw VVS Laxman retire hurt after scoring only two.

India were only 170 ahead when Laxman left the field with a swelling over the left eye, suffered while trying to fend off a rising delivery from fast bowler Mohammad Sami. He later returned to make 24.

Dravid, called 'The Wall' for his rock-like defence and consistency, lived up to his reputation with yet another elegant knock which shattered Pakistan's hopes of restricting India's lead.

There was never a moment of uncertainty in Dravid's stroke-play as he cut and drove on his way to a century. He hit 15 fours in his 283-ball knock.

When Dravid was caught in the deep by Asim Kamal off leg-spinner Danish Kaneria, India were safe with a lead of 335.

Karthik, 19, batted sensibly under pressure to provide valuable support to his senior partner.

Playing only his seventh Test, the wicketkeeper looked set to score a deserving maiden century when he was bowled by Kaneria going for big shots before the declaration. He struck 13 fours in his 140-ball knock.

The Test was wide open in the morning session before Pakistan encountered Dravid and Karthik.

Sami did the damage in his lively opening spell when he held a return catch to account for Ganguly, who mistimed a pull after adding just eight to his overnight four to leave his home crowd disappointed.

Sami, Kaneria and seamer Abdul Razzaq finished with three wickets apiece.

GET, SET AND GO: Master India batsman Rahul Dravid is about to cut one late on way to scoring a superb 135 on the fourth day of the second Test yesterday. PHOTO: AFP