Yuvraj and Ganguly rally India

Published: Saturday, December 8, 2007, 15:14 [IST]
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Yuvraj Singh and Sourav Ganguly cracked impressive half-centuries to pull India out of trouble in the third and final Test against Pakistan here on Saturday.

Yuvraj scored an unbeaten 67 on his comeback and Ganguly a solid 62 not out as an under-strength India reached 192-4 in their first innings at tea on the opening day after electing to bat on a good pitch.

India were reeling at 61-4 following debutant seamer Yasir Arafat's three-wicket burst before left-handers Yuvraj and Ganguly steadied the innings with an unfinished 131-run stand for the fifth wicket.

Yuvraj, playing his first Test in more than a year, outscored his senior partner with a wide range of attacking shots. He flicked Arafat for a boundary to reach his fourth half-century.

Former captain Ganguly also looked in control as he drove and cut firmly, reaching his 30th half-century with an on-driven four off part-time bowler Younis Khan.

Pakistan were a quality paceman short in the second session as Shoaib Akhtar sent down just two overs before being taken to a hospital for back pain.

The afternoon session belonged to Yuvraj and Ganguly, who counter-attacked to deny Pakistan a success after four wickets had fallen in the morning. Each has so far hit 12 fours.

The 25-year-old Arafat, who joined the squad as a replacement for injured Umar Gul, did the maximum damage when he removed Wasim Jaffer (17), Rahul Dravid (19) and Venkatsai Laxman (five) in a disciplined seven-over spell.

India, leading 1-0 in the series, made four changes from the side that drew the second Test. Top batsman Sachin Tendulkar, wicket-keeper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, and pacemen Zaheer Khan and Munaf Patel were ruled out due to injuries.

The hosts' batting problems began in the eighth over when left-handed opener Gautam Gambhir was caught behind off fast bowler Mohammad Sami after contributing five runs in his first Test in two years.

Arafat bagged his first big wicket when he dismissed former captain Dravid, caught at first slip by Misbah-ul-Haq while attempting to cut an away-going delivery.

Jaffer, who scored a double-century in the previous match, was trapped leg-before while Laxman played a low delivery on to his stumps just before the lunch-break.

India included pacemen Irfan Pathan and Ishant Sharma, and batsmen Yuvraj and Gambhir following injuries to key players.

Pakistan made only one change, bringing in Arafat for seamer Sohail Tanvir.

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