India Crumble as Pakistan Win

The storm clouds had murmured after Lahore, the skies had thickened in Faisalabad, and finally in Karachi the torrent of wickets fell to scorching raw pace. Whereas in the first two Tests neither Pakistani nor Indian batsman had been challenged, the awestruck tourists now crumbled in the face of the hostile home side.

The two previous Tests proved a drawn out and inconclusive prologue to the adrenalin-fuelled National Stadium, and when the smouldering wreck of an Indian side limped awestruck to a 341-run defeat, the Pakistani pacemen certainly provided an explosive and decisive climax.

Resuming on 511, with five second-innings wickets in hand, Faisal Iqbal, who struck a maiden hundred yesterday, and Abdul Razzaq took just short of 13 overs to add another 88 runs, taking their partnership to four below the 200-run mark. When Razzaq holed out at long-on, in similar manner to Faisal, and with the lead standing at a colossal 606 runs, stand-in captain Younis Khan declared.

The Indian batsmen were still licking their salted wounds, when Shoaib Ahktar took the key wicket of Dravid, undone by a little movement and pouched by wicket-keeper Akmal. Virender Sehwag was then comprehensively bowled by Mohammad Asif, who jerked one back of the seam, uprooting Sehwag’s middle peg in exotically subcontinental fashion. With just one-and-a-half overs gone, India were eight for two, with both openers dismissed.

Sachin Tendulkar and VVS Laxman now led a fairly aggressive fightback, demonstrating their experience to nurture India through to lunch without further loss. However Asif soon accounted for both when play resumed: Laxman was left swishing at thin air as he was cleaned up by another inswinger, while Tendulkar fell a little foul of the surface as a shooter clanged into his off-stump.

Yet again the Indians rebuild, this time under the watchful eyes of the reinstated Sourav Ganguly, and Yuvraj Singh. While the runs continued to flow, largely due to some zealous Pakistani field settings, the target was only mildly dented. Indian hopes plummeted further when Razzaq had Ganguly trapped leg-before, and were perhaps extinguished when MS Dhoni was caught by Farhat off the same bowler.

Irfan Pathan, who had flourished despite the conditions throughout the series, also offered little resistance, falling victim of a vicious Razzaq bouncer as centurion Iqbal took the catch in the gully. The only real resistance now came from Yuvraj, batting with princely elegance, a sole flame in the creeping blackness. He was to hit 19 fours and a solitary six in his 144 ball 122, though received, bar some initial company from Ganguly, little support.

Danish Kaneria, surplus to requirements in the first-innings, then entered the fray. He had Kumble, driving expansively, acrobatically caught at slip by Farhat, and mopped up Zaheer Khan. Yuvraj, the lonely crusader, finally top-edged a catch to Akmal off Razzaq, and the Indian downfall was complete.

Throughout the series, the Pakistani seam attack must have been clamouring for a fresh, lively track, and when they got it, methodically slit the Indians apart. In a giant game of Jenga, they let the Indians squabble over the inconsequential early blocks, before ruthlessly toppling the Indian batsmen when the competition got serious. For India, who must now face the wrath of the home media, there are many unanswered problems: Ganguly the most pressing. Rahul Dravid is a makeshift opener at best, and Gautam Gambhir may now be the future partner of Virender Sehwag, with Ganguly’s departure the most likely result from the reshuffling.

On boneless pitches, India matched their great rival. But when they needed to prove their mettle, the Pakistani bowlers had other assignments.

Pakistan 245 and 599 for seven declared (140.1 overs)
Faisal Iqbal 139, Abdul Razzaq 90

India 238 and 265 (58.4 overs)
Yuvraj Singh 122; Abdul Razzaq 4 for 88, Mohammad Asif 3 for 48

Pakistan won by 341 runs

Man of the Match: Kamran Akmal

Pakistan won the three-match series 1-0

Man of the Series: Younis Khan

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