The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Bucknor spanner in Sachin's effort at record
- Indians fight back to snatch 14-run first innings lead
- Rahul Dravid hits 37th half-century

Calcutta: The world around him seemed to crumble. Sachin Tendulkar's blank look signified despondency.

When there was daylight between bat and ball, Steve Bucknor thought otherwise. Abdul Razzaq's late swing, which caused a deviation, had foxed the umpire.

The genius was at work for most of the third session on the third day and it looked like the world record 35th century was there for his taking. It was not only the flair and skills that captivated, also the assurance.

Then as twilight set in rather prematurely and the floodlights were set aglow, Bucknor made the dreadful decision.

One day he will have to rue it, despite all the happy memories of his centenary Test. Abdul Razzaq's half-hearted appeal after Kamran Akmal had dived low to his right to collect the ball was upheld by Bucknor following his customary deliberation.

A bemused Sachin shook his head before walking back, struggling to come to terms with the judgement. The stunned gathering took time to react but booed the West Indian on his way back to the pavilion.

Two overs after Sachin's exit, the umpires decided to call off play because of bad light after having ignored Sachin and Rahul Dravid's appeals earlier.

The twist in the tale had cut short the promising 98-run partnership for the third wicket. At close, India were 147 runs ahead in the second TVS Cup match, with play scheduled to begin at 9.19 am on Saturday.

For the better part of their partnership, Sachin and Dravid had upset Pakistan's planning with their shot selection and superb running between the wickets. The Master Blaster was relaxed despite being bothered by the sightscreen at the outset.

Mohammed Sami did trouble Sachin in the corridor of uncertainty but he grew in confidence. The timing was perfect and his approach put the opponents under pressure.

Dravid was not to be left behind, in total control while reaching his 37th fifty. It's important for the vice-captain to stay out there for a long period on the fourth day if India are to harbour hopes of victory.

In the morning, Pakistan's calling the shots ended with the return of Yousuf Youhana. The third-wicket pair could add only eight more runs to their overnight collaboration of 203.

It wasn't that the pitch changed its character overnight but the visiting batsmen just gave it away. The application and determination that was the hallmark of the Younis Khan-Youhana stand was suddenly on the wane and the Indians grabbed the opportunity with both hands.

The batsmen lacked the fighting spirit and surrendered too meekly. How else can one describe the soft dismissals of Asim Kamal, Razzaq and Akmal ' the men who had showed indomitable will and character to force the draw in Mohali.

Kamal paid the price for over-enthusiasm and misjudgement ' he was found short of the crease going for the third run following a Sourav-Sachin relayed throw.

From the moment Youhana left to an unconvincing leg-before decision by Darrel Hair in the day's fourth over, it was curtains for Pakistan's first innings.The Indians had announced their fightback and the regular fall of wickets affected the flow of runs.

Inzamam-ul Haq's promising start had raised hopes in the Pakistan dressing room. It seemed their hopes of batting till tea and then taking it from there would be in place. But as the Irfan Pathan delivery swung on him, the skipper he failed to keep his bat away.

The Indians immediately knew they had a good chance to wrap things up and were determined not to let it go.

The late-order caved in under pressure, belying the promise shown in Mohali. The innings folded up 70 minutes after lunch, 14 runs behind India's 407. The bowlers, Anil Kumble's three wickets being the best effort, had inspired a fresh offensive. Kumble and Harbhajan bowled a better line and were rewarded.

Harbhajan surged ahead of Erapalli Prasanna's 189 wickets to become the fourth successful Indian spinner when he dismissed Akmal. The off-spinner bowled well in his second spell and bagged the wickets after lunch.

Perhaps the wear and tear on the pitch will increase the spinning duo's effectiveness manifold in the second innings.

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