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Y2 factor returns, haunts India again

Bowlers toil on dead wicket as Younis Khan and Mohd Yousuf share an unbeaten partnership of 190.

india Updated: Jan 16, 2006 01:39 IST

Rahul Dravid may have come to Pakistan chasing a dream but the manner in which the opening day of the Test series unfolded, he may well be chasing a mirage.

The first bad omen came even before the toss of the coin. The whole world watched Sourav Ganguly, Dravid and Greg Chappell involved in an animated debate at the ground. Animated would be a wrong word to use perhaps as what everyone saw was Ganguly talking and the other two listening.

Finally, Ganguly was very much in the playing XI and after the mini-drama of the morning, the entire day went with Indian supporters here speculating what this latest episode in a long-running drama was all about, concentrating less on the thrashing their team was getting on the field.

The second indication that India had run out of luck came when the toss favoured Inzamam-ul-Haq. And in the first two overs that Irfan Pathan and Ajit Agarkar bowled, it became obvious that the wicket would send the fielders to sleep and have the bowlers wondering whether there was any justice in the world.

Before one goes into the woes that befell the Indians there was one stroke of luck -- more deception perhaps in the context of what happened later --- that presented the Indians with a wicket. A combination of a silly attempt by Salman Butt to take a run and a stunning throw from Yuvraj from short midwicket that hit bulls eye saw Pakistan lose their first wicket.

That was the only time India celebrated on the field. Slowly and steadily, a solid platform was built by the innovative Younis Khan, with more than ample help from the efficient Shoaib Malik and Mohammad Yousuf's delightful strokeplay.

In the beginning, the runs came in a trickle. It was a time to read the wicket, get adjusted to its pace and gauge the depth of India's attack. The wicket was as placid as a wicket can be. At least that is the impression one got from the listless manner in which Pathan and Agarkar bowled. It had no pace and not much bounce. And in these conditions the Indian attack, that had both Harbhajan Singh and Anil Kumble, lacked both depth and imagination.

Just when it looked like Pakistan wouldn't lose any more wickets, Malik decided to show the charitable side of his team.

He drove a half volley into the hands of cover and Pakistan, much to the surprise of the Indians, were 136 for 2. That was the last time India probably believed they were still in the game. Khan, whose relish for the Indian attack will soon acquire legendary proportions, is a man whose temperament is ad mirable, appetite for huge scores enviable and he plays his strokes with the freedom of a man who has just been let loose from a cage.

He uses his bat to play all sorts of strokes -- some part of the copy book and some not - that would leave attacks better than this completely demoral ized. In one word, his batting was awesome. His partner, Mo hammad Yousuf, was more ele gant and more correct but matched Khan' stroke for stroke.

After tea, runs came in a torrent, the bowling went from bad to worse, the fielding was as ragged as one could imagine and at day's end, India should introspect and ask themselves some questions. Beginning with one -was it necessary to wash their dirty linen in full public gaze so early in the morning?

SCOREBOARD PAKISTAN (1st innings): S Malik c Bhajji b Pathan 59 S Butt run out 6 Younis Khan batting 147 Md Yousuf batting 95 Extras (lb10, nb8, w1) 19 Total (for two wkts) 326 Fall of wkts: 1-12, 2-136 Bowling: Pathan 21-3-76-1, Agarkar 15-3-59-0, Ganguly 6-1-14-0, Harbhajan 16-4-640, Kumble 23-1-92-0, Sehwag 4-0-11-0 India team: Sehwag, Dravid, Laxman, Tendulkar, Ganguly, Yuvraj, Dhoni, Pathan, Harbhajan Singh, Agarkar, Kumble

First Published: Jan 16, 2006 01:39 IST