Kaif rescues India on Day III

Nagpur, March 3:

Mohammad Kaif made a career-best 91 to pull India out of the mire on the third day of the opening Test against England after Matthew Hoggard had skittled out their top-order. India were reeling at 190-7 after Hoggard’s five-wicket haul, but Kaif led a fight back that saw India reach 322-9 at stumps, still 71 runs adrift of England’s first innings total of 393.

Kaif was well supported by Anil Kumble who batted defiantly for nearly four hours for his 58 runs, his first Test half-century in eight years and the fourth of his career.

Hoggard rattled the Indian batting line-up with 5-57. Debutant left-arm spinner Monty Panesar took 2-72.

Kaif made the most of his opportunity with a quality innings under pressure before missing out on his maiden Test century. His 263-ball knock contained 12 fours. The pair equalled India’s record eighth-wicket stand of 128 against England, which was between Ravi Shastri and Syed Kirmani at Delhi in 1981-82.

England removed Kaif and Kumble in the last two overs of the day to give themselves every chance of a healthy first innings lead. Steve Harmison had Kumble caught by Alastair Cook at first slip and then Panesar knocked back Kaif’s off-stump with a ripper.

England had chances to break the partnership earlier, but could not grab them. Kaif was on 18 when Andrew Flintoff failed to latch on to a return catch. Kumble was let off on nine, dropped by Geraint Jones off Harmison.

England paid dearly for these lapses as Kaif and Kumble grew in confidence with each shot to spare India’s batting blushes after an inspired spell from Hoggard.

The seamer removed skipper Rahul Dravid and then accounted for Wasim Jaffer and Venkatsai Laxman off successive deliveries with shrewd variations in pace.

The hosts, resuming at a healthy 136-1, lost five wickets in the morning as Hoggard took three in his opening two overs and Flintoff and Panesar one apiece.

Hoggard seamer was on a hat-trick after he dismissed opener Jaffer and Laxman with the fifth and sixth balls of his next over. Jaffer added eight to his overnight score of 73, which contained 15 fours. Hoggard completed his five-wicket haul when he had Irfan Pathan caught by Flintoff at second slip.


ENGLAND — 1st Innings: 393

INDIA — 1st Innings (overnight 136-1)

W Jaffer c Flintoff b Hoggard 81

R Dravid lbw b Hoggard 40

S Tendulkar lbw b Panesar 16

V Laxman lbw b Hoggard 0

M Kaif b Panesar 91

M Dhoni c Jones b Flintoff 5

I Pathan c Flintoff b Hoggard 2

A Kumble c Cook b Harmison 58

H Singh not out 0

Extras: 27 (b17, lb3, nb2, w5)

Total: 322/9

FoW: 1-11, 2-140, 3-149, 4-149, 5-176, 6-183, 7-190, 8-318, 9-322

England bowling: Hoggard 30-13-57-5, Harmison 27-5-75-1, Flintoff 29-10-68-1, Panesar 41.4-19-72-2, Blackwell 7-0-28-0, Bell 1-0-2-0