New Delhi, Nov 25 (UNI) Opener Wasim Jaffer (53) made a strokeful half century to give India to a strong start in their run chase as the hosts inched closer to the winning target of 203 on the fourth day of the first Test at Feroz Shah Kotla here today.
India suffered early jolt losing Dinesh Karthik but Jaffer and Rahul Dravid steadied the innings and at tea break, the hosts were for 89 for two, still needing 114 runs for a win and eight second innings wicket intact.
India added 86 runs in post-lunch session from 28 overs after they were three for one at lunch interval.
Rahul Dravid was well settled on 34 (94 balls, 5X4) and Sachin Tendulkar was giving him company on one after facing 12 balls.
With four sessions remaining in the match and the Kotla pitch not deteriorating much, India, whose highest score while successfully chasing a target at this ground was 190 for three against Zimbabwe in November 2000, are in a good position to go 1-0 up in the three-match series.
India's highest fourth innings total at this ground though was 364 for six in the drawn Test against Pakistan in Decemeber 1979 while the highest fourth innings total any team had chased down successfully on this ground was 276 for five which West Indies made against India in November 1987.
Dravid and Jaffer shared an 82-run stand for the second wicket after Karthik was out for one and team score of two in the first over of India second innings, edging Shoaib Akhtar to wicket-keeper Kamran Akmal after facing five balls.
Dravid, though, was lucky to have survived a couple of close LBW decisions, Sami being the unfortunate bowler. On the other hand, Jaffer was composed all through and was the more dominant partner of the India duo.
Jaffer punished all the bowlers without exception. He sent Sohail Tanvir and Danish Kaneria for two fours, one of them a majestic back foot cover drive and another a well-timed and effortless shot past mid-on to the deafening roar of near capacity crowd.
Jaffer also punished Mohammad Sami for two consecutive fours in the 23rd over, the first a flick off his pads to fine-leg boundary and the second a pull shot to mid-wicker boundary. He did not even spare Shoaib Akhtar and brought up his fifty with an exquisite square drive off the bowler.
The "Rawalpindi Express' though had the last laugh and Jaffer fell to him while trying to pull him only to be catched-out to Salman Butt at point.
Jaffer faced 81 balls and hit eight fours for his 53 and when he was out, India were 80 for two, still needing 123 for a win.
Earlier, Pakistan were all out for 247, 20 minutes before the end of dramatic morning session. Resuming on 212 for five, they lost five wickets, three in four balls, in 17.1 overs this morning with the addition of 35 runs and their second innings folded after 83.1 overs.
Shoaib Akhtar remained not out without scoring.
India needed just five balls in the morning to get the breakthrough with Zaheer Khan removing Kamran Akmal for 21. Pakistan had then added only one run to their overnight 212 for five and with it the sixth wicket stand of 52 runs was broken.
Akmal was out while chasing a widish delivery from Zaheer only to edge to substitute fielder Yuvraj at point. The Pakistan wicket-keeper faced 56 balls for his 21 and hit three fours.
Next batsman in, Sohail Tanvir, was on a punishing mood but paid the price for playing a shot too many. After hitting Zaheer for two fours and Anil Kumble for a boundary, he went for an unsuccessful pull shot off Zaheer only to hole out to Harbhajan at square leg.
Tanvir made 13 from 23 balls and when he was out Pakistan had taken 184-run lead with three wickets in hand.
Mohammad Sami came in to join Misbah-ul-Haq and the duo looked like to repeat the same defiant show of the first innings but drama unfolded at this stage and Pakistan lost three wickets in four deliveries which spanned two overs.
Kumble claimed the second new ball after 82.3 overs and handed it to Sourav Ganguly who triggered the end of Pakistan innings by taking two wickets in three balls.
First, he induced Misbah to play a rash shot only to hole out to Dinesh Karthik who ran from mid-on to long-on to take a well-judged catch for 45. Next ball, Sami hit Ganguly for a four but then the former India captain had the last laugh removing Sami for one with Wasim Jaffer holding an easy catch after the ball spooned high to mid-wicket region.
Next ball off Kumble, Danish Kaneria (0) pushed it to Tendulkar towards cover and set off for a single only to be sent back by Shoaib Akhtar. Tendulakr's throw was wide but MS Dhoni collected it and threw the ball between his legs to the stumps and Sami was well short of the crease.
Kumble returned with three for 68 (total match figure of 7 for 106). Zaheer (match figure 4for 90), Ganguly (match igure 3 for 48) and Harbhajan (match figure 3 for 93) chipped in two each. Munaf Patel was unsuccessful while conceding 48 from 10 overs (match figure 1 for 109).