The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Laxman, Dhoni fight back
- Shoaib, Tanveer wreck Indian top order

New Delhi: Misbah-ul Haq gifted India his wicket but the hosts refused to take advantage on the second day of the first Test for the IndianOil Cup at the Kotla on Friday.

In the end, India were moderately placed at 228 for six after V.V.S. Laxman (57 batting) and Mahendra Singh Dhoni (57) rescued India from a position of despair. The duo put on 115 after the home side had plunged to 93 for five.

In the morning, Pakistan were dismissed for 231 when they looked good for many more. Misbah and Mohammed Sami, who had resurrected the innings with a fighting ninth-wicket stand, looked in complete control before Misbah committed harakiri.

Having resumed on 71, Misbah moved smoothly to 82 when tragedy struck. The right-hander hit a Sourav Ganguly delivery to the point region and sprinted for a single. He would have beaten Dinesh Karthik’s direct throw comfortably, but in trying to evade the ball, Misbah jumped over it. As the ball crashed into the stumps, Misbah was inside the crease but airborne!

It was referred to the third umpire, but the batsman realised he had blundered. The frustrated Misbah slapped his forehead and slowly made his way to the pavilion.

It was the breakthrough India had been looking for desperately since Thursday afternoon. They quickly wrapped up the innings and looked to have established a firm grip on the match.

Well, it didn’t quite turn out like that.

A sensational collapse saw them losing half the side for less than 100. At that point, the hosts were in danger of conceding a substantial first-innings lead!

It took a brilliant partnership between Laxman and Dhoni to restore the balance. With the Pakistan attack spitting venom, the duo stabilised the innings with great care, mixing caution with aggression.

The post-lunch session was Pakistan’s, as they sent back Wasim Jaffer, Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav and Rahul Dravid. Laxman and Dhoni ruled the final session. Dhoni hit some glorious shots, Laxman a few gorgeous ones.

Unfortunately, Dhoni aggravated an injury (on the left ankle) he had received during the Jaipur ODI. Play was held up for five minutes as physio John Gloster attended to Dhoni.

The ODI captain was back on his feet but didn’t last long. His movement was obviously hampered as he got stumped off Danish Kaneria. His 57 spanned 93 balls and included eight boundaries.

The Indian batting cut a sorry figure in the second session. Shoaib Akhtar and debutant Sohail Tanveer triggered the collapse with speed and accuracy on a wicket where the ball was keeping low.

On Thursday, Shoaib was greeted with loud cheers every time he entered the field. He may have lost a few friends on Friday as he troubled the Indian batsmen no end with his intimidating pace.

Tanveer, on the other hand, was a revelation. Bowling over the wicket from the Delhi Gate End, he was confidence personified in his debut Test. He was most lethal in his third spell, as he castled both Sourav and Dravid to break India’s backbone.

Sourav lasted only nine balls for his eight runs that included a fine square cut boundary off Tanveer. He was out to the next ball.

Dravid, who scored 38, looked good till he was the victim of yet another vicious Tanveer delivery. Between the 22nd and 28th over, India lost four wickets as they slumped from 71 for one to 93 for five.

The turning point was the dismissal of Tendulkar. He was run out while going for a second run. Mohammed Yousuf’s throw from square-leg area beat him by a whisker.

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