Pakistan 231 & 247 India 276 & 203-4: Kumble in control as India ease to victory

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The Independent Online

Sachin Tendulkar completed a robust half-century as India coasted to a six-wicket victory over Pakistan in the opening cricket test yesterday.

Needing just 32 runs on the final morning, India lost overnight batsman Sourav Ganguly before Tendulkar (56 not out) reached his 46th half-century to drive India home.

Chasing a modest target of 203, India was on the verge of victory at 171 for three when play ended on Sunday.

Tendulkar, resuming at 32, cover drove legspinner Danish Kaneria to complete his half-century and then square-cut paceman Shoaib Akhtar for the winning boundary. His 109-ball knock contained nine fours. V.V.S. Laxman remained unbeaten on five.

Ganguly failed to add to his overnight score of 48, miscuing a pull against Akhtar to Sohail Tanvir at deep fine-leg.

Bowling a fiery spell, Akhtar (4-58) was the lone Pakistan bowler to impress in India's second innings.

Ganguly and Tendulkar added 88 runs for the fourth wicket that ensured India's smooth sailing at the Ferozeshah Kotla Stadium, where it now has three wins from five tests against Pakistan. The two other India-Pakistan matches at this venue ended in draws.

This was the ground where Pakistan made its test cricket debut, but a test win here continues to elude it.

Leading India to victory on his captaincy debut, the game was a personal triumph for skipper Anil Kumble who emerged as the man of the match by claiming seven wickets. Kumble produced vital breakthroughs whenever Pakistan's batsmen sought to stage a fightback.

"This ground has been very special for me," said Kumble, who dismissed all 10 Pakistan batsmen in an innings when India last played a test match against Pakistan at this venue in 1999.

Kumble's feat made him only the second bowler after England's Jim Laker to claim all 10 wickets in a test innings.

"Getting Pakistan out under 250 in both innings was a credible performance for our attack," said Kumble. "The boys responded very well, each one of them made a significant contribution."

He said the partnership between Laxman and Mahendra Dhoni in the first innings was crucial as it helped India recover from a top-order slump.

"It was important to me to get into the groove straightaway, three months away from cricket is a long break," said Kumble.

Pakistan skipper Shoaib Malik was confident his team will recover from this loss to contest the three-test series. "Pakistan's a good side, I'm confident we'll bounce back," he said.

"If we had set India a 300-run target in the second innings, the result could have been in our favor," Malik said. "If you have to win a test match, the batsmen have to score 400. We failed to get anywhere near that."

The second test match starts Friday in Calcutta.