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Tame draw, tamed spectators

Cricket was taken to new levels of absurdity on Wednesday, as thousands delightedly watched a match that should have been called off early, as the final day could have produced a result under no circumstances.

india Updated: Jan 28, 2006 19:45 IST

Cricket was taken to new levels of absurdity on Wednesday, as thousands delightedly watched a match that should have been called off early, as the final day could have produced a result under no circumstances.

It should have been an exasperating day for all those interested in a meaningful contest, something that could have happened only if both teams had contrived to inject some excitement into the match. This possibility, needless to say, did not exist, as no team would want to lose.

And given the nature of the wicket - it seemed to have got better and better with each passing day - the only way the match would have come alive was if Pakistan had set a target for India to chase. Again impossible for a simple reason - had India achieved that target, Pakistan would have probably sacked their entire team.

So far, this has been a Test series that has left most bewildered. An inquisition should be held against those responsible for making dead tracks in Lahore and here. It is difficult to describe the boredom of watching a day's play which would have relevance only to batsmen from both the sides.

Mohammad Yousuf became the 12th centurion in a series that has seen almost 3,000 runs being scored in the five innings (only two were completed) played in two Tests. This should be some sort of a record. One more world record was created in this match and that was of the maximum number of sixes in a Test.

The only way you could have enjoyed the last day's play is if you were a sadist who hates the bowlers and loves to hear the sound of the ball hitting the bat and then the advertising boards.

That is what the crowd must have enjoyed, as, at no stage did the packed house display their annoyance with their own team for not declaring and making the match a bit interesting. But on a wicket like this, any captain would have dreaded setting any target and to be too critical of Pakistan would be unfair. Instead, everyone concerned about cricket should castigate the Pakistani authorities for making a mockery of a series that had promised so much.

The mystery as to why the crowd decided not to leave the ground was solved at the fag end of the match. They patiently waited out the day for Shahid Afridi to make an appearance at the crease, which he did with only 20 overs left.

His entry was greeted with the glee and admiration, that in India, would only be reserved for a Shahrukh Khan. He came and went and with his departure, the crowd too started leaving.

The match still continued. Younis Khan failed to make a double hundred, falling for 194 and all of a sudden, five Pakistan wickets fell in a jiffy, lending a touch of the bizarre to a match that the bowlers would want to be erased from the record books.

Scoreboard

Pakistan 1st innings: 588
India 1st innings: 603

Pakistan 2nd innings Butt c Tendulkar b Kumble 24 Akmal c Kumble b Pathan 78 Y Khan lbw b RP Singh 194 Md Yousuf run out 126 Razzaq c Laxman b Zaheer 32 Afridi c Dhoni b Zaheer 1 Md Asif b Zaheer 0 Akhtar not out 0 Kaneria b Zaheer 0 Inzamam retired hurt Malik retired absent Extras - b9, lb10, w3, nb13 - 35 Total (for 8 wkts) 490 Fall of wkts: 1- 52, 2- 181, 3- 423, 4- 488, 5- 490, 6- 490, 7- 490, 8490. Bowling: Pathan 22- 2- 80- 1, RP Singh 22- 3- 75- 1, Kumble 21- 3118- 1, Zaheer 19.4- 4- 61- 4, Harbhajan 22- 2- 78- 0, Yuvraj 90- 46- 0, Dhoni 1- 0- 13- 0. India 2nd innings Laxman not out 8 Dravid not out 5 Extras - w6, nb2 - 8 Total (for no wicket) 21

First Published: Jan 28, 2006 19:45 IST