Cricket: Prasad routs Pakistan

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THE INDIAN pace bowler Venkatesh Prasad seized five Pakistan wickets in 18 deliveries without conceding a run during a dramatic last session on the third day of the First Test yesterday.

Prasad finished with his Test-best figures of 6 for 33 after Paki-stan, 16 behind on the first innings, fell from 275 for 4 to 286 all out. With India needing 271 to win, Waqar Younis provided the final twist to a compelling day's play by blasting out the openers Sadagopan Ramesh and Vangipurappu Laxman, leaving India on 40 for 2 at the close, needing another 231 to take the opening match of the two-Test series.

Prasad, who shattered the Pakistani innings after tea with a spell of 5.2-4-9-5, stole the spotlight from Shahid Afridi, who hit 141, his maiden Test century. Afridi, who first made his mark for Pakistan in a pinch- hitting role in one-day matches, was particularly severe on the leg-spinner Anil Kumble. Afridi scored 64 off the 70 deliveries he faced from Kumble.

After Pakistan resumed at the overnight 34 for 1, Kumble struck in his first over of the day, deceiving Ijaz Ahmed (11) in the air and taking the catch. An aggressive third-wicket stand of 97 between Afridi and Inzamam- ul-Haq repaired things.

Inzamam made 51 before being caught. Then Pakistan, 155 for 3 at lunch, lost Yousuf Youhana (26) soon after the break when Tendulkar bowled him, leaving Salim Malik to support Afridi in a fifth-wicket stand of 106 before India struck back, the last six wickets tumbling for 11 runs.