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    March 18, 2005

    Bucknor strikes for Pakistan as India make a strong comeback

    Steve Bucknor, who was definitely acting strange for the first couple of days of the test match when he made some pretty good decisions, came onto his own today at the fag end of the day's play as he gave Tendulkar out caught behind. It was an absolutely shocking decision which halted India's strong comeback on the third day at Calcutta. India, having bowled out Pakistan for 393, were on 133/3, a lead of 147 runs. My guess is that any target in the range of 275-300 will be very difficult to chase.

    Pakistan resumed on 273/2 and Youhana was out almost immediately, shouldering arms to Balaji's inswinger which hit his pads. Inzamam replaced him and looked in ominous touch but after he reached 30, Pathan had him caught behind. The wickets then started to fall regularly. Asim Kamal was runout to a superb piece of fielding by Tendulkar. The ball was hit to long-on and was chased by Tendulkar & Ganguly. Ganguly got to it first and flicked it to Tendulkar who noticed confusion in the running and hurled in a long throw right to Dinesh Karthik who wasted no time in effecting the runout. The spinners then took control with Younis Khan, who had batted superbly till then, edging to second slip, out for 147. The rest threw their wickets away with some mindless slogging. A total that should have been in the vicinity of 500 was now reduced to less than 400 and India had a huge psychological edge following the comeback.

    However, for the game to be in India's control, they needed to bat well and the start was not too good. Gambhir was yorked by Sami. Sehwag smashed a few boundaries but was then bowled off the inside edge by Sami. He now averages 71.3 in the first innings and 24.3 in the second, a huge difference but also an indicator of how useful he is to set the tempo of a game. Conversely, this also implies that especially if there is a chase on, you can pretty much forget about him contributing.

    Dravid and Tendulkar then joined forces and Tendulkar, as in the first innings, took a while to get off the mark. Dravid resumed on 110, not zero, it seemed. After tea, Tendulkar took over and quickly raced past Dravid to the fifty mark. Just when it seemed like these two would bat out the day, and ideally score centuries tomorrow, Steve Bucknor struck. Dravid got to his fifty in the last over of the day.

    What could happen tomorrow? India would want to extend the current lead to over 350 and ask Pakistan to make those runs in just over a day. This means they'd need to score around 220-250 runs in around five hours, not a difficult task for sure. With neither Laxman nor Ganguly in great nick, Pakistan's best option is to remove the specialist batsmen as soon as possible and have to chase no more than 250. Of course, both teams need help from the umpires to achieve their goals.
    Thus spake Jagadish @ 6:08 PM |
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