Balaji sends Pak reeling in Rawalpindi

Published: Tuesday, April 13, 2004, 21:05 [IST]
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Rawalpindi: Laxmipathy Balaji claimed a career-best 4-53 to send Pakistan reeling in the third and final cricket Test against India in Rawalpindi.

Fellow pacemen Ashish Nehra and Irfan Pathan grabbed two wickets each as the Indian bowlers revelled in helpful conditions after captain Sourav Ganguly won the toss and elected to field on Tuesday.

Pakistan, who went to lunch on the opening day at 96 for four, slipped to 137 for eight before tailenders Mohammad Sami and Fazle Akbar lifted them to 169 for eight by tea.

The ninth-wicket pair has so far added 32 valuable runs, with Sami making 19 and Akbar eight.

Both sides are level 1-1 in the three-match series, the first between the two countries on Pakistan soil since 1989.

Ganguly returned to lead India after missing the first two Tests with a back injury. Opener Aakash Chopra made way for the captain, while left-arm seamer Nehra replaced Ajit Agarkar.

Pakistan made one change from the side that won the second Test at Lahore by nine wickets, bringing in fast bowler Akbar in place of the injured Umar Gul.

Left-handed openers Imran Farhat and Taufiq Umer saw off the first 45 minutes to put on 34 on a wicket that afforded seam movement to the Indian bowlers.

Both batsmen, however, fell leg-before in successive overs to reduce Pakistan to 34 for two.

Umer, who made nine, was dismissed by Balaji, while Farhat (16) fell to Nehra.

Pakistan moved to 77 for two when India hit back again with two wickets in the space of eight deliveries.

Left-arm seamer Irfan Pathan made amends for a wayward first spell to force Yasir Hameed (26) to edge a catch to Venkatsai Laxman at second slip.

Pakistan skipper Inzamam-ul-Haq, who made 15, survived a confident leg-before appeal off Nehra, before being caught behind off the next ball.

The hosts added 14 to their lunch score of 96 for four when Pathan struck a vital blow by bowling Yousuf Youhana for 13 off the inside edge of the bat.

Balaji then trapped Asim Kamal leg-before for 21, had Kamran Akmal caught by Laxman at second slip for 17 and clean bowled Shoaib Akhtar two balls later.

Indian seamers strike crucial blows in Pindi

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