Pakistan 231 & 247 India 276 & 171-3: Tendulkar passes Border as India close in on victory

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The Independent Online

India moved to the brink of victory in the opening test against Pakistan yesterday after an assertive performance by its top-order batsmen on day four.

An unbroken 78-run partnership for the fourth wicket between former captains Sourav Ganguly (48 not out) and Sachin Tendulkar (32 not out) boosted India to 171 for three at stumps, just 32 runs short of the victory target of 203.

Pakistan scored 231 and 247 in its two innings, while India posted 276 in its first effort.

Before Ganguly and Tendulkar accelerated India's run chase, the home side got impetus from opener Wasim Jaffer's brisk 53 and his 82-run stand for the second wicket with Rahul Dravid, who contributed 34.

The Jaffer-Dravid stand spiked Pakistan's hopes of ripping through India's top-order after the first-over dismissal of opener Dinesh Karthik.

Tendulkar passed a significant milestone, surpassing the run aggregate of Australian Allan Border to become test cricket's second highest run-scorer behind former West Indies captain Brian Lara.

Tendulkar went past Border's aggregate of 11,174 runs when he crossed for a single that notched his 25th run. Lara continues to head the test run-scorer's standing with 11,953 runs.

Tendulkar's unbeaten 86-ball knock contained five fours, but Ganguly displayed more sparkle as he struck eight boundaries off 61 deliveries.

Pakistan ace Shoaib Akhtar claimed all three wickets to fall in India's second innings.

Akhtar made an early breakthrough by inducing an edge from Karthik (1) to wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal, but then had to wait for a long time to break the Jaffer-Dravid partnership.

Jaffer miscued a hook off Akhtar and Salman Butt took a diving catch at square-leg, while an incutter dislodged Dravid's leg-stump.

India was 93-3 when Dravid fell and the outcome of the test in the balance, but Ganguly and Tendulkar's partnership put India within touching distance of victory against its arch rival.

Earlier, Pakistan resumed at the overnight score of 212 for five, but managed to add just 35 runs as paceman Zaheer Khan (2-45) and seamer Ganguly (2-20) cleaned up the tail.

Zaheer removed overnight batsman Akmal in the day's first over, ending his 52-run partnership with Misbah-ul-Haq for the sixth wicket.

Playing a drive away from his body, Akmal was snapped up by substitute fielder Yuvraj Singh at point. Khan struck again when Sohail Tanvir (13) was caught by Harbhajan Singh at square-leg.

Ganguly then took two wickets in his only over of the day. Misbah fell trying to hoist the ball over the mid-on fence, with Karthik running back from mid-on to take the catch, and two balls later Mohammad Sami (5) fell to a catch by Jaffer at square-leg.

Last man Danish Kaneria was run out by Tendulkar on his first ball.

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