| Body blow: Lakshmipathy Balaji after taking the key wicket of Inzamam-ul Haq on the fourth day. (PTI)
|Closer to 400: Anil Kumble, who took his tally to 397 with Friday’s 4-wicket haul, signals the end of Yusuf Youhana
THEY ALSO SPOKE...
|• MoS Virender Sehwag: It’s great being part of a team which created history... The world was watching and, at the end, we won big. Obviously, the series in Australia helped... It gave us confidence... Personally, I’ll be aiming for more consistency.
• MoM Rahul Dravid: It’s the biggest moment of my career... Yes, I was lucky (during the mammoth 270), but when luck comes your way, make the opposition pay.
• Highest wicket-taker Anil Kumble: Credit should go to our batsmen, who did a terrific job... The young fast bowlers too... They made it easy for me.
• Senior-most pro Sachin Tendulkar: It’s been an outstanding team effort... People should focus on how well we played rather than how disappointing Pakistan’s performance turned out to be... It’s here that I began my career (1989-90) and, so, there’s greater significance where I’m concerned.
• Coach John Wright: I’m very happy for the boys, particularly as the last series win overseas was over a decade ago… Hopefully, this is another step in the right direction.
— BY OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
Rawalpindi: India realised a 50-year dream on Friday, humbling Pakistan in their own backyard for the first time ever in a Test series, the impact of which went far beyond the playing arena.
Sourav Ganguly and his men wrapped up the series 2-1 comprehensively defeating their listless opponents by an innings and 131 runs in the series-deciding third Test here shortly after lunch on the fourth day. It was a double blow to Pakistan who had lost the one-day series 2-3 to India last month.
The die was already cast when the Indian team took the field this morning although Pakistan’s captain Inzamam-ul Haq, who has been in brilliant form with the bat, had promised a fightback. That never materialised and the home side, overnight 49 for two, perished for 245. India’s mammoth 600 runs against Pakistan’s first innings score of 224 in the end proved too much for the hosts.
Over-eager to win a historic series, the Indians dropped as many as seven catches on Friday but such was the dominance of their bowlers that they still emerged easy winners. After Lakshmipathy Balaji (3/108), Irfan Pathan and Ashish Nehra had knocked off the cream of the Pakistan batting line-up, Anil Kumble wrapped up the innings with four for 47 to take his tally to 15 in the series. His overall tally now stands at 397.
The hosts lost the wickets of Kamran Akmal (23), Yasir Hameed (20), Inzamam (9), Yusuf Youhana (48) and Mohammed Sami (o) during the extended pre-lunch session to allow the visitors to come within sniffing distance of victory.
The post-lunch session saw Indians take the remaining three wickets, including that of Shoaib Ahktar who made 28 off 14 balls. Watched by a paltry crowd, a forlorn Pakistan coach Javed Miandad and a nail-biting Shoaib in the Pakistani dressing room, the Indians erupted in joy when last batsman Danish Kaneria was caught by Sourav off Sachin Tendulkar to end the home side’s misery. In the true spirit of the series, the few hundred Pakistanis in the stands applauded the Indians as they hugged each other.
In the process, Sourav not only became the first captain to lead India to a series win on Pakistani soil but also the most successful skipper ever with 15 Test wins, erasing Mohammed Azharuddin’s 14 victories.
On this 40-day tour of Pakistan, there were many heroes among the Indians who came and conquered their arch-rivals in both the one-day and the Test series. India toured Pakistan for the first time in 1955 and had to wait for this day for rewriting history.
Virender Sehwag, who bludgeoned his way to a record 309 in the first Test was declared Man of the Series, Rahul Dravid, who made a marathon 270 in this Test was predictably declared the Man of the Match and veteran Anil Kumble won the ‘golden ball’ award for his 15 wickets in the series on tracks designed for fast bowlers.
The day did not start the way the Indians had expected as they saw several chances going amiss. Nightwatchman Akmal Kamal survived a chance when he edged between VVS Laxman at second slip and Sehwag at third slip in the very first over from Balaji and then had another stroke of luck when Yuvraj floored a catch at short leg, Irfan Pathan being the unlucky bowler.
Akmal’s luck, however, ran out in the third over of the morning when Balaji knocked down his stumps with a beauty of a delivery.
Nehra struck in his very first ball by removing Hameed with Parthiv Patel latching on to a brilliant catch, diving full length to his left. The home team suffered a huge jolt a few minutes later when the in-form Inzamam perished cheaply with the hard working Balaji being the wickettaker. Inzamam pushed forward but only succeeded in edging to Patel who took a low catch.
Youhana (48) and top-scorer Asim Kamal (60 not out) tried to stem the rot as the two batsmen launched a counter attack by going for their strokes. But all that went in vain.
In many ways the real bowling heroes for India were the inexperienced medium-pacers — the popular Balaji and lion-hearted Pathan who tore into the Pakistani batting in the first Test in Multan and the decider here on wickets on which the much-vaunted Pakistani fast bowlers failed.
India in 4th spot
India’s series win against Pakistan propelled them to fourth spot in the ICC Test rankings, the highest the team has ever been, adds a report from London. The Indians moved up to 102 points behind Australia (127), South Africa (112) and England (103).
In Calcutta, the BCCI announced a Rs 50-lakh bonus for the team. Terming it as a “historic moment”, BCCI president Jagmohan Dalmiya said: “I join the rest of the country in congratulating the team.”