India three wickets away from glory

Published: Friday, April 16, 2004, 18:55 [IST]
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Rawalpindi: Pakistan's batting crumbled for the second time in the match to leave India in sight of a historic victory in the third and final cricket Test in Rawalpindi.

Pakistan, trailing by 376 runs on the first innings, went to lunch after an extended morning session on the fourth day at 197 for seven, still 179 runs away from avoiding their second innings defeat in the series.

None of the home batsmen could emulate the monumental 12-hour effort of Rahul Dravid who hit a career-best 270 on Thursday to propel India to 600 in reply to Pakistan's first innings score of 224.

Only the prospect of rain forecast for later on Friday and Saturday will prevent India from securing their first overseas series win since Sri Lanka in 1993 and their maiden one on Pakistan soil.

The two-hour morning session was extended by 30 minutes due to Friday prayers, but nothing went right for Pakistan from the start.

Pakistan, who resumed at the overnight score of 49 for two, struggled to negotiate the Indian seamers in overcast conditions at the Rawalpindi stadium.

Nightwatchman Kamran Akmal (23) hit three boundaries in Laxmipathy Balaji's opening over, but failed to survive his second when the paceman sent the off-stump cartwheeling.

Captain Inzamam-ul-Haq and Yasir Hameed also did not last long despite surviving dropped catches by Rahul Dravid and Anil Kumble in the slip cordon.

Hameed made 20 when he edged Ashish Nehra down the leg-side and wicketkeeper Parthiv Patel dived to his left to pick up a low catch.

Inzamam edged Balaji's outswinger to Patel as Pakistan slipped to 94 for five in the first hour.

Yousuf Youhana and Asim Kamal put on 81 for the sixth wicket before Youhana offered a tame return catch to Anil Kumble after making 48.

Kumble then dismissed Mohammad Sami first ball of his next over, but Shoaib Akhtar denied the leg-spinner a hat-trick and celebrated that with three boundaries and a six in the same over.

Akhtar went to lunch on 18 while Kamal, batting in pain due to a swollen elbow caused by a hit while fielding at short-leg on Wednesday, was on a brave 34 not out.

India won the first Test at Multan by an innings and 52 runs before Pakistan drew level with a nine-wicket triumph at Lahore last week.
India sits pretty as Dravid defies Pak again

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