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Lack of killer instinct let India down

On seeing the green, India quickly consolidated its batting that gave an impression of the safety-first attitude.

india Updated: Feb 02, 2006 16:14 IST

Lack of a killer instinct and "tired" players led to India's defeat in the third and final Test against Pakistan that ensured their 0-1 defeat in the three-match series that ended on Wednesday.

India had Pakistan on the mat in the very first over of the match on January 29 as left-arm pacer Irfan Pathan shook the home side with a sensational hat-trick. But the team as a whole failed to deliver the knockout punch and allowed the hosts to claw back into the game.

The leeway conceded by India proved decisive in the end, as Pakistan not just defeated them by 341 runs with more than a day to spare, but also clinched the series. The first two Tests in Lahore and Faisalabad had ended in high-scoring draws.

The Rahul Dravid-led India also lost an opportunity to register their maiden win at the National Stadium. Now India have played six Tests in Karachi, with the home side winning three and three ending in draws.

India and Pakistan will now play five one-day internationals starting in Peshawar February 6.

If it was India's inability to kill the contest when on top that led to their downfall, Pakistan's aggressive attitude and perseverance made them victors.

After the series, Dravid said that the Indian bowlers were tired after bowling long spells on batting friendly pitches in Lahore and Faisalabad and, therefore, they did not look penetrative.

But is that a valid excuse? Millions of Indian fans might not agree with Dravid.

The Indian bowling attack lacked variety. The three mainline pacers played in Faisalabad and here were all left-armers, with part timer Sourav Ganguly in the support role in Karachi.

On the successful tour of Pakistan in 2004, it was obvious that right-arm pacer Lakshmipathy Balaji had made a big difference with his away going deliveries. He missed the current tour due to an injury and Ajit Agarkar filled the gap in the first Test.

But after the first Test, Agarkar got injured and did not play the second, enabling left-armer Rudra Pratap Singh to make his Test debut in Faisalabad. Singh gave a good account of himself and even won the Man of the Match. So he could not be dropped in Karachi.

Karachi was different from Lahore and Faisalabad in several ways.

Unlike the Gaddafi Stadium and Iqbal Stadium pitches, the National Stadium track had grass on it. On seeing the green, India quickly consolidated its batting by dropping the fifth bowler (off-spinner Harbhajan Singh) from the eleven and including an extra batsman (Ganguly). The decision gave an impression of the safety-first attitude.

If India were keen to win the Test - and the series - they should have made the best use of the grass on the pitch and tackled the none-too-strong Pakistani batting line-up head on.

In the event, Indian bowlers, barring the first day, looked ineffective as wicket-keeper Kamran Akmal (113) and comeback kid Faisal Iqbal (139) rescued Pakistan in the two innings and pacers Abdul Razzaq and Mohammed Asif did the crucial damage.

Vice-captain Younis Khan, who also led the team in the absence of captain Inzamam-ul-Haq in the third Test, was the top run scorer in the series with a tally of 553 at 110.60 while Mohammed Yousuf was the second best with 461 at 92.20.

Razzaq and Asif, the find of the series, emerged as the top wicket takers with nine and eight scalps respectively.

For India, vice-captain Virender Sehwag was the series' top scorer with 294 at 73.50 and Dravid made 241 at 80.33. Both came good in the drawn Tests and failed when India needed them the most.

Zaheer Khan, making a comeback to the Test side, and Rudra Pratap Singh took 10 and nine wickets respectively to be the only Indian bowlers who extracted some respect from the Pakistani batsmen. They were the only ones who finished with an average of less than 40.

First Published: Feb 02, 2006 16:14 IST