Pakistan v India (1st Test)
Samiul Hasan in The Dawn - 29 January 1999
Day 1: Youhana, Moin hit gutsy half centuries
CHENNAI (India), Jan 28: Yousuf Youhana and Moin Khan stroked gutsy half centuries but three cruel umpiring decisions left Pakistan with a daunting task in the first cricket Test against India which started at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium here on Thursday.
Saeed Anwar, Ijaz Ahmed and Saqlain Mushtaq fell victims to highly debatable decisions by Steve Dunne (from New Zealand) and V.K Ramaswamy of India as Pakistan were bowled out for 238 on a track that appears to be batsmen-friendly in front of about 30,000 cheering spectators.
Youhana, who has made a great reputation of himself in a very short time, scored a painstaking but attractive 53 and Moin Khan, Pakistan's man of crises, slammed an entertaining 60.
Pakistan, requiring a couple of early wickets to get into even terms with India, were let down by their demon but out-of-rhythm fast bowlers Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis as the home team opener took advantage of some erratic, wayward and ill-planned bowling to race to 48 without loss in just eight overs.
Debutant and local boy Sadagopan Ramesh struck five some sweetly-timed boundaries in his 30 while Venkatsai Laxman displayed his wrist power by reaching 18 with three boundaries.
Pakistan had arrived here amidst security threats. But what they actually faced was bad umpiring and not the Hindu militants. The circumstances in which Saeed Anwar was declared leg before wicket by local umpire Ramaswamy reminded one of the Pakistan cricket team's tour in 1979-80 when the Indian umpires never allowed Javed Miandad to play big innings by adjudging him LBW almost every time the ball hit his pads.
It seems that Saeed Anwar and Ijaz Ahmed are on the target now as they are the two batsmen for Pakistan who have big scores against their names in the ongoing season. Anwar has stroked two centuries against Australia while Ijaz Ahmed has two centuries and a half century in four Tests he has playing here. In addition, Anwar also got his world record 194 against India at the same venue two years ago in India's Independence Cup one-day tournament.
Anwar, who was blossoming by reaching 24, was declared leg before by Ramaswamy as soon as the ball struck his pads after the opener had offered no stroke. The ball was clearly missing the off-stump by at least six inches but Ramaswamy thought it otherwise.
Four overs later, Dunne raised his finger towards the heaven when Ijaz was hit on the pads when stretched well forward - again while offering no stroke. Television replays suggested that the ball might have missed the leg-stump.
Saqlain, the last man to be dismissed, was given caught bat and pad by Dunne though the ball never touched Saqlain's willow. His dismissal, though, made no difference as Pakistan had already squandered a golden opportunity to post a handsome score on the board.
The dismissals of Saeed and Ijaz, nevertheless, had a huge impact on the middle-order. Their departure in a space of 20 runs after make-shift opener Shahid Afridi had already perished in the eighth over of the match, pushed the Pakistan middle-order into their shells.
And when they tried to release the pressure, they plunged into further trouble. Inzamam-ul-Haq, who came into the Test after having scored 98 not out and 96 at Gwalior, offered a return forward catch to Anil Kumble off a full toss. Salim Malik was cut into half by Javagal Srinath immediately after lunch when the ball clipped the bails as Pakistan slumped to 91 for five.
However, Pakistan's young gun, Yousuf Youhana, and man of crises, Moin Khan, rebuilt the innings by sharing in a 63-run sixth wicket stand in 85 minutes. A more positive seventh wicket partnership of run-a-minute 60 between Moin Khan and Wasim Akram helped Pakistan get to the eventual score which at one stage looked beyond reach.
Youhana, who was looking good, was taken by surprise by India's golden boy Sachin Tendulkar when he was trapped right in front of the wickets. But Youhana displayed great maturity and mental toughness in his 140 minutes knock in which he received 107 balls out of which seven were converted into boundaries and a straight six off Anil Kumble. It was Youhana's fifth half century in 13th Test innings besides a century against Zimbabwe in the previous Test.
Moin Khan was as confident as ever when he cut with authority and drove with power to belt seven boundaries and a six off Sunil Joshi in his 117-ball 60 that came after 145 minutes of occupancy of the wicket.
Moin was smartly caught by Saurav Ganguly in the first slip while trying to guide a short ball from Kumble towards the third man region.
Wasim Akram, captaining Pakistan for the fourth time in five years, made no mistakes until he was caught by Venkatsai Laxman at short-leg off Kumble for 38. His innings sparkled five boundaries and six from 60 balls.
Despite bad umpiring, the Indians cannot be discredited from putting up a disciplined performance. Javagal Srinath, their main striker, jolted the top order by accounting for Afridi and Anwar and from there Kumble took over the charge by dismantling the middle-order to finish with six wickets for 70 in his 50th Test match.
Azharuddin's captaincy was at its best when he brought on Tendulkar after Yousuf Youhana and Moin Khan looked to take away the game from him. Tendulkar struck on his third delivery to once again prove how shrewd and smart his captain was.
But fielding once again remained below par as no less than four catches went down - Azharuddin being the guilty on two occasions. He dropped Afridi on the 14th ball of the match while he showed greasy palms again when he failed to hold onto a difficult chance offered by Anwar. Yousuf Youhana and Moin Khan were also the beneficiaries on one occasion each.
Pakistan included Shahid Afridi in place of a regular opener, either Wahajatullah Wasti or Mohammad Naveed Qureshi, while Ijaz passed fitness test in the morning. Mushtaq Ahmed was left out because of injury which paved the way for Nadeem Khan who is playing his second Test in five years. It was also after 15 years that two brothers were playing in a Test for Pakistan - last being in 1984 at Karachi when Ramiz Raja and Wasim Raja played against David Gower's Englishmen.
India, on the contrary, left out controversial off-spinner Harbhajan Singh and preferred Sunil Joshi.
Day 2: Saqlain puts the Test on a knife-edge
CHENNAI (India), Jan 29: The historic first Test between Pakistan and India was put on a knife-edge by Saqlain Mushtaq who spun the home team out for 254 in front of a disciplined but partisan capacity crowd here on Friday.
Saqlain, the 23-year-old spinner, captured his fifth of the five-wicket haul in 18 Tests when he grabbed five wickets for 94 runs in 35 marathon overs to allow India take a slender 16-run first innings lead after they had resumed this morning at 48 for no loss. That lead had been slashed by the stumps on the second day by the tourists who had reached 34 for the loss of Saeed Anwar's wicket.
The left-hander, for the second time in the match, was adjudged lbw this time right in front of the wickets.
When play ended because the sun was falling right into the eyes of the batsmen at the far end with 5.1 overs still to be bowled, Shahid Afridi was at the crease on seven. With him was Ijaz Ahmad on 11.
Saqlain Mushtaq, labeled as one-day specialist despite having an excellent Test record, was well assisted by skipper Wasim Akram and Shahid Afridi. Akram snapped up the wickets of the Indian openers to become seventh leading wicket-taker in the world with 356. Afridi finished with three wickets for 31 runs, including the wicket of Saurav Ganguly who scored a fighting 54 off 138 balls with two sixes (both off Saqlain) and three boundaries.
But it was Saqlain Mushtaq who was the cat amongst the pigeons. Saqlain pulled out every trick he had in his sleeves at a time when an outstanding performance was expected of him. Despite facing urinary problems, the crafty off-spinner remained in the field and bowled almost throughout the day. He bowled unchanged in the first session except in the final over before lunch to return with figures of 13-2-37-2. He returned for his second spell and though showed signs of fatigue, managed to pick up three wickets for 53 runs in 19 overs.
Saqlain started the demolition of the Indian middle-order in great style when he foxed world's best batsman Sachin Tendulkar by having him caught by Salim Malik at backward-point off a delivery that spun away with the arm. Tendulkar, who had entered the field amidst deafening clapping by the spectators, had attempted to hoist him over the mid-wicket only on the third ball of his innings. But his departure silenced the spectators as he disappeared in the dressing room in pin-drop silence.
Contrary to the welcome Tendulkar received from the spectators, Mohammad Azharuddin walked out but lasted only 28 balls before Saqlain Mushtaq had him caught by Inzamam-ul-Haq at silly point.
In the second spell, he fooled a defiant Rahul Dravid off a straight ball on which the batsman offered no stroke and was adjudged lbw. Dravid, who came into the Test after scoring century in each innings against New Zealand earlier this month, scored a flawless 53 off 113 balls with five boundaries and a six.
Nayan Mongia was Saqlain's fourth victim. The Indian wicket-keeper tried to counter him by dancing down the track but ended up missing the line of the ball to leave an easy stumping for Moin Khan. Anil Kumble hung around for 45 balls before becoming Saqlain's final scalp when he was caught at forward-short-leg by Yousuf Youhana.
``I am delighted (with the performance) but missing my father who was my mentor, friend and inspiration,'' said Saqlain of his father who died of cancer last month. ``I used to celebrate my successes with him but he is no longer there. I am feeling a bit lonely today despite the fact that the entire team tried to bring me comfort.''
``But the real celebration would be after we win this Test match. Every Pakistani wants to beat India and I am no different,'' Saqlain added.
And Saqlain is not wrong. The match is delicately placed with Pakistan just 18 runs ahead with nine wickets and three days remaining. But if history has anything to do with this Test, Pakistan should emerge winners as in the Bangalore Test 12 years ago, Pakistan had surrendered a 29-run first innings lead to win the Test by 16 runs. Nevertheless, if Pakistan want to turn the clock back, they need to bat throughout the day tomorrow so that they can set India a substantial target.
``I am looking forward to a score of around 300. I think it is quite achievable because the wicket has no real demons. Only Saqlain Mushtaq managed to spin the ball,'' Pakistan captain Wasim Akram said.
Akram, who bowled a superb first spell but later intimidated the batsmen by a barrage of short-pitch stuff, had provided Saqlain the platform from which he could dictate terms. Akram trapped both the openers in front of the wickets in a space of six balls. He first accounted for Venkatsai Laxman (23) and then picked up debutant Sadagopan Ramesh but not before the left-hander had scored 43 off 41 balls with five hits to the fence.
Laxman and Ramesh had provided India the best opening start of 67 runs in five Tests.
Akram celebrated his promotion to seventh in leading wicket-taker behind Kapil Dev (434), Sir Richard Hadlee (431), Courtney Walsh (397), Ian Botham (383), Malcolm Marshall (376) and Imran Khan (362) by saying he was aiming at a target of 400 wickets. ``I believe that if you set targets for yourself, you put in extra efforts to achieve that. To be realistic, Kapil Dev's record looks illusive to me at this stage but once I reach 400 wickets, that would be my next target.''
Akram, who is world's leading wicket-taker in one-day cricket, had entered the Test just one wicket behind Dennis Lillee's 355 wickets.
Day 3: Test heading for an exciting finish
CHENNAI (India), Jan 30: The historic first Test between Pakistan and India was heading for a heart-stopping finish after both the teams ended up on even terms in a day of fluctuating fortunes at the Chidambaram Stadium on Saturday.
Pakistan, having resumed this morning at 34 for one after India had secured a 16-run first innings lead on Friday, suffered one of their worst collapses to be bowled out for 286 after losing their last six wickets in a space of 43 balls for the addition of 11 runs.
When the sun forced an early closure by five overs, India, chasing 271 to win, were 40 for the loss of both the openers. They still require 231 runs to record their first Test win over Pakistan in nearly 20 years and the men who can make that happen are at the crease - Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar.
The in-form Dravid was on eight while Tendulkar, trying to make amends for his third-ball duck in the first innings, was 20 and looking dangerous.
A blazing and classy maiden Test century by Shahid Afridi (141) had put Pakistan in a commanding situation when they went for tea at 266 for four. But paceman Ventakesh Prasad led a late Indian fight back to capture five wickets in 18 balls without conceding a run to snatch the initiative from Pakistan and prevent them from posting a mammoth score.
Prasad, who bowled an amazing post-tea spell of 5.2-4-9-5, finished with six for 33, his best bowling figures for India. Not to belittle his brilliant effort, Pakistan's late-order, which has often played a rearguard role, virtually threw away their wickets.
Centurion Shahid Afridi, skipper Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis perished while playing mind-boggling shots and Saqlain Mushtaq for the second time in the match fell victim to a controversial leg before decision. Moin Khan was Prasad's first victim of a hostile spell when the Pakistan wicket-keeper was caught behind off a beautiful outswinger. However, it was Sunil Joshi who had created the inroad by breaking a 106-run fifth wicket stand between Afridi and Salim Malik (32). But Joshi should be thankful to Rahul Dravid who brought of a spectacular catch in the first slip after the ball had went to him sharply and low on his left.
Afridi, playing only his second Test, whipped 21 blistering boundaries and three massive sixes in a knock spanning little over six hours during which he received 191 deliveries. Afridi, dropped when he was barely four last evening, had his share of luck again on Saturday when Sunil Joshi failed to accept a regulation return catch when the Pakistani was 57. But barring those lapses and the shot which brought his demise, Afridi played an innings which any great batsman would feel proud of.
He was ruthless in cutting, ferocious in driving, thundering in pulling and calculated while taking the ariel route. His shot selection was often near perfect and timing absolutely accurate. It was a great pleasure to watch him show patience which normally he doesn't. The confidence with which he batted can be judged from the fact that when on 92 he swept Anil Kumble for a six despite a fielder who was there for a mis-timed shot.
His innings must have brought a sigh of relief for the selectors back home who had to face a barrage of criticism over his selection. But Afridi proved that he had the big match temperament and potential to perform in crunch and tense matches.
Afridi, who has an experience of 71 one-dayers behind him, reached his half century from 59 balls by hitting Joshi over his head for his first six. He had also struck eight boundaries by then. Afridi received a standing ovation from 20,000 festive crowd when he reached his century from 134 balls with 13 boundaries and three sixes.
Afridi was very fortunate to get his century while batting with experienced professionals like Saeed Anwar, Inzamam-ul-Haq and Salim Malik who share 190 Tests and 11,626 runs between them. The trio kept coaching and teaching the young talent and he behaved like an obedient student particularly when he batted with Inzamam-ul-Haq and Salim Malik with whom he was involved in partnerships of 97 and 106 runs for the third and fifth wickets respectively.
Inzamam-ul-Haq dominated the partnerhip by stroking a superb 51 before Steve Dunne ruled him out bat and pad. It was again a poor decision by Dunne who has already given eight fatal decisions in the match so far. Haq's innings included 10 boundaries from 74 balls.
Haq and Afridi had got together when Ijaz Ahmad had fallen on the 9th ball of the day. Such poor is the judgement of Dunne that he had to seek the help of the third umpire to give the decision. Interestingly, Kumble, who was the bowler, was confident that he had taken a ligitimate catch but Dunne wasn't. Dunne's failure to give Ijaz out straight away prompted Michael Holding to call for his removal. ``Not only remove him from the ICC panel but also from this match and immediately,.'' he was heard yelling in anger.
Pakistan would surely have a sleepless night because they know that they have throne away an opportunity of building a sizeable lead after being 275 for four. The dismissal of the last six batsmen in 43 balls is totally unjustified. If Pakistan lose this Test, it would be purely because of the lower-order who didn't realize their responsibility and got dismissed while trying to commit hara-kiri.
Day 4: Pakistan retrieve victory from the jaws of defeat
CHENNAI (India), Jan 31: Pakistan continued from where they had left 12 years ago by carving out a nerve-shattering 12-run victory over India to go one-up in the two-Test series at the Chidambaram Stadium here on Sunday.
On March 18, 1987 under Imran Khan at Bangalore, Pakistan had defeated India by 17 runs the last time they played on Indian soil. Today, Imran's true successor Wasim Akram marshaled his troops magnificently to repeat history by captaining his team to a memorable and even closer win with a day to spare.
In an absolute see-saw thriller, Pakistan were almost dead and buried after Sachin Tendulkar had masterminded India's fight back by sharing a 136-run sixth wicket stand with Nayan Mongia to lift the home team from a precarious 82 for five to 218 for five while chasing 271 for victory.
But finger spinner Saqlain Mushtaq pulled the tourists from the pit's edge to take them to the zenith of glory. He captured five wickets for 93 runs in 32.2 overs to earn match figures of 78.1-16-187-10. It was the second time he grabbed 10 wickets or more in a Test on his 18th appearance.
However, it was the skipper Wasim Akram himself who spearheaded the final kill.
Akram, with the second new ball, picked up the scalp of Nayan Mongia when India were still 53 short of victory. He added the wicket of Anil Kumble after Saqlain had captured the prized wicket of Sachin Tendulkar with India still requiring 17 runs to break their 20-year win drought against Pakistan.
Saqlain then removed Sunil Joshi and last-man Javagal Srinath in a space of eight balls to bring Pakistan a hard-fought but thoroughly deserved victory in a Test marred by poor umpiring by Steve Dunne and V.K Ramaswamy.
As soon as Saqlain's top-spinner dislodged Srinath's bails, the Pakistanis fell down on their knees to thank the Almighty. Later on, the players proved that they were on a friendship tour by taking a victory lap amidst thundering clapping and cheering. It was a great sight to watch the players running along side the rope and the full house on their feet to appreciate and congratulate the winners. In the entire four day's play, the Pakistan players had not received so many clappings, probably the spectators had saved them for the big day.
``Hats off to Saqlain. The boy is a real match-winner. I always had faith in him and today he showed that I backed the right person,'' a delighted Wasim Akram said, adding: ``I am also happy for Shahid Afridi who showed maturity while scoring those 141 beautiful runs the other day.''
A grim Indian skipper Mohammad Azharuddin, who was booed by the crowd as he attended the prize distribution ceremony, said: ``I have no complains with Sachin Tendulkar. He played really well but Pakistan were the true winners though I feel we could have won the game if Nayan Mongia had not departed after doing all the spade work.''
Mongia and Tendulkar were equally responsible for awarding Pakistan the Test on a silver platter.
Mongia, who had batted with great authority and responsibility, needlessly attempted a big shot against Wasim Akram and holed out to Waqar Younis at mid-off. Tendulkar, world's best batsman, did an even criminal thing, as far as India are concerned, when he tried a big hit over mid-wicket to sky the ball at mid-on where Akram held an easy catch.
Mongia's shot was nothing but senseless. With Tendulkar on the other end, all he had to do was to continue picking gaps and rotate the strike back to the little batsman. Tendulkar, who in any way played a champions like innings of 136, committed hara-kiri without realizing that only three batsmen with no real batting technique were left in the dressing room.
But all credit to the Pakistanis.
Pakistan started on a high note when Wasim Akram bowled an in-form Rahul Dravid with a delivery that swung in the air and moved off the pitch to hit his off-stump. India, who had started the day at 40 for two, were then 50.
Saqlain Mushtaq, 23 runs later, picked up Mohammad Azharuddin for the second time in the match after the batsman padded the ball while offering on stroke. That debatable decision was followed by the worst decision of the match when Saurav Ganguly was declared caught by an athletic Moin Khan off a rebounded by Azhar Mahmood who was fielding at silly point.
Television replays cleared showed that the ball had bounced from the pitch before Moin grabbed it inches of the ground. Dunne consulted Ramaswamy but inquired only if Moin had taken a legitimate catch. It was yet another example of umpiring inconsistency by Dunne who had sought the help of third umpire to declare Ijaz Ahmad caught and bowled at chest height by Anil Kumble out on the third morning.
With India tottering at 82 for four before lunch, it appeared that Pakistan would fold up the home team's innings before lunch. But Sachin Tendulkar had different ideas.
Tendulkar played an epoch making innings which may remain unmatched for a long time in Test cricket history. He displayed all the artistry which gave him the status of the best in the world. He was solid in defense and attractive in stroke-play. His patience must be an example for the budding youngsters as his 136 came after little under seven hours of batting. It was quite uncharacteristic innings by Tendulkar who is reputed to score over 200 runs in that span of time.
His innings was spiced with 18 fascinating boundaries. He faced 273 balls and his 18th century in Tests came from 235 balls with 13 hits to the fence. Tendulkar now has to his credit a century against every Test playing country except Zimbabwe.
Both the teams now leave for New Delhi on Monday morning where the second Test starts from Thursday. According to reports, it was raining heavily in New Delhi which have prevented the ground staff from giving final touches to the wicket.
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