India face tough test in Karachi

Karachi, January 31:

India’s seasoned batsmen faced a test of character to save the series after Pakistan took a vice-like grip on the decisive third Test here today.

Led by Faisal Iqbal’s maiden century, the host staged a commanding batting performance on the third day to take their second innings to 511-5 by stumps, an overall lead of 518. Indian stars Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag, will have to bat out at least five sessions to save the test and the series after the first two Tests were drawn.

It is an unenviable task even though the wicket appeared to have eased out from the seaming track that produced 14 wickets on the first day and eight on the second. The world record for the most successful fourth innings chase in history is 418-7 by the West Indies against Australia in Antigua in 2003.

The Indians can seek inspiration from their hosts whose first six batsmen scored half-centuries, with Iqbal reaching his hundred in the last over of the day by pulling Anil Kumble for a boundary. Iqbal made an unbeaten 103 that contained 12 hits to the fence.

Abdul Razzaq was the other batsman at the crease on 44, having added 109 runs so far for the unbroken sixth wicket with Iqbal.

Mohammad Yousuf made 97, skipper Younis Khan 77 and Shahid Afridi 60 to build on half-centuries from openers Salman Butt (53) and Imran Farhat (57) on Monday.

The Indian attack wilted under the assault with Irfan Pathan going for 1-93 from 23 overs, Zaheer Khan 0-93 from 26 overs and Rudra Pratap Singh 1-91 from 21 overs.

Pakistan, who started on 173-2, went to lunch untroubled at 270 and moved to 370-4 by tea. Younis and Yousuf put on 158 for the third wicket before both batsmen were trapped lbw by Kumble.

Younis was denied his third hundred in the series when he was dismissed for 77.Yousuf fell three short of what would also have been his third century in the series. His 97 included 12 fours.

Pakistan fell from 280-2 to 318-4, but Iqbal and Afridi pressed home the advantage by adding 84 for the fifth wicket. Afridi smashed 60 off 46 balls, reaching his half-cenntury with two fours and a six off consecutive deliveries from Pathan.