Faisalabad Test: Stumps, Day 3
Odd day today
, kind of like a kaleidoscope of illusions. The pre lunch session forced you to believe that for all the hard work and perseverance put in by Pakistan, all they’d get would be one fine display of batsmanship after another by Dravid and Laxman. Not that many runs were leaked but every ball bowled was dealt with such assurance and composure that at that stage I felt as if Dravid would never get out, absolutely never.
But something we had for lunch (or perhaps a pep talk by Woolmer or something of that sort) dispelled this notion with remarkable suddenness. Laxman would make a rare error on 90 and despite Kamran Akmal having a less then impressive day with the gloves behind the wickets, he held on to the outside edge. With Dravid on the other end stuck in the nervous 90s and Tendulkar having just arrived yet to get off the mark, the crowd sensed an opportunity was knocking on the door. Suddenly India were under pressure again, and it might have been that extra pressure alone which caused the fall of the next wicket.
Sachin tucked one down the leg side for what should have been a regulation single, but for some reason there was some hesitation, both in the initial calling and then in the response by Dravid, result being Dravid, normally a man known for his technical perfection, forgot to ground his bat into the popping crease, Imran Farhat, still on as sub for Inzi, hit a direct hit from square leg and even though Dravid’s bat was in at the point of impact of the throw with the bails, it was in the air. The third umpire signaled red, and Pakistan were cook-a-hoop. Such was the command with which Dravid had play all our bowlers, a run out was just about the only we could have got Dravid out.
When Yuvraj followed Dravid back in the pavilion (pulling one down Kaneria’s throat at fine leg) and Sachin walked after gloving another short one down leg soon after, I didn’t quite think the floodgates might have opened. This simply cannot happen on a surface like this. It just send a cat amongst the pigeons, and by the time tea had been called, Dhoni and Pathan had already added a few runs in a manner in which it would seem that the nerves in the Indian dressing room had settled or were beginning to settle.
This was confirmed, with such audacity and aplomb, after the resumption that you could have easily forgotten Dhoni and Pathan were steadying the ship after a middle order collapse which saw India lose 4-45. There is only this much I can say in praise of Dhoni, given my sensitivities
obviously. Some how I have survived viewing a maiden test hundred for a man with very nearly the most dangerous hair in the world, and even the sight of him taking his helmet off, and raising his arms to acknowledge the applauds he got for his hundred. I don't know how I managed.
The life of this test is now hanging on to a tiny thread. If only Asif was better rewarded for his perseverance both Pathan and Dhoni would have been out just before close of play (the former was dropped by Sami on 2nd slip and later by Kamran Akmal), Pakistan would have seen some light at the end of the tunnel. As it is now, all we can see at the end of the tunnel is a lighter shade of darkness.Cross posted on Sundries