Second Test Match

India v Pakistan 2007-08

Richard Sydenham

At Kolkata, November 30, December 1, 2, 3, 4, 2007. Drawn. Toss: India.

Sourav Ganguly had managed just one half-century in seven previous Tests at Eden Gardens but, with his place under pressure from Yuvraj Singh, he delivered his first hundred on his home ground. Although the match award rightly went to Wasim Jaffer for his second Test double-century, the romance of the occasion belonged to Ganguly. He is held in such reverence in Kolkata, which has not produced as many stars as Mumbai or Bangalore, that it would have been harsh on his adoring, loyal fans - and even on the player himself - if he had retired without ever reaching three figures there. A campaign to reinstate Yuvraj to the side was bubbling nationwide, at least in the media, and Ganguly was arguably most vulnerable. But his 14th Test hundred - his first against a major Test nation for four years and his first against Pakistan - silenced any criticisms that still lingered, a year after he had regained his place following his omission in 2005-06. The single to mid-off from Danish Kaneria that gave the "Prince of Kolkata" his century produced the loudest roar of the match.

Jaffer, usually stubbornness personified at the top of India's order, batted with rare freedom to reach 192 by the end of the first day, almost as if he was releasing years of frustration at not being able to replicate his cavalier domestic form on the Test stage. He was out for 202 early the next day, after facing 274 balls in 401 minutes and hitting 34 fours, half of them off the left-arm medium-pacer Sohail Tanvir. A slow, true pitch helped the Indians, and Ganguly and Laxman made the most of the opportunity. Tendulkar seemed destined to register his 38th Test century until he failed to read a googly, giving Kaneria the wicket he had most coveted before the series.

India's innings was even more of a struggle for Pakistan because of the problems they carried into the match. Shoaib Malik, the captain, had twisted his ankle playing football two days before the game, and Younis Khan led instead. Shoaib Akhtar spent a night in hospital with a chest infection three days before the Test, and was apparently advised to skip the match by doctors, while Mohammad Sami was given rehydration treatment for flu.

When they dipped to 150 for five, 466 behind, Pakistan seemed to be facing certain defeat, but a sixth-wicket stand of 207 between Misbah-ul-Haq (dropped on 22 by Tendulkar at midwicket) and Kamran Akmal (dropped on 87 by Patel at fine leg) was the first and most important stage of their recovery. Misbah had hinted at Delhi that he could be an able replacement for the retired Inzamam-ul-Haq, and in this Test he confirmed it. He batted with the kind of resolve and safety of strokeplay of Dravid, who watched most of this innings from slip. Misbah finally reached the maiden Test century he missed at Delhi only because of a freak run-out, and proved that, even at 33, he was one for the future. Akmal's position was less secure before the match. He had struggled with bat and gloves for some time, and another wicketkeeper, Sarfraz Ahmed, had been drafted into the tour squad as cover. But when his team needed a performance most, Akmal delivered: it was his fifth Test hundred and his fourth against India, three of them coming in a crisis.

Pakistan needed to survive for most of the final day after India set them 345, but on a placid pitch there were few alarms once Younis and Mohammad Yousuf dug in, putting on 136 after the total had slipped to 78 for four. It was Younis's third century in his last four matches, and his touch was best illustrated when he reached his 15th Test hundred with a reverse-swept four through point off Harbhajan Singh, who had claimed his 20th Test five-for in the first innings.

Man of the Match: Wasim Jaffer.

© John Wisden & Co.