India ease to 104 at lunch for Karthik's wicket

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Kolkata, Nov 30 (UNI) India made a confident start reaching 104 for one at lunch, after Sohail Tanvir removed opener Dinesh Karthik with his first delivery on the opening day of the second Test against Pakistan at the Eden Gardens here today.

An unchanged India won the toss and elected to bat, even as the visitors were forced to drop injured skipper Shoaib Mallik for rookie Faisal Iqbal. Mohammed Sami, Shoaib Akhtar and Misbah-ul-Haq all were drafted into the side having sufficiently recovered from their viral fever. Vice-captain Younis Khan stepped in as the stand-in skipper hoping to repeat his 2006 Karachi feat.

At lunch India were 104 for one from 27 overs with Wasim Jaffer unbeaten on 65 (11X4) and Dravid undefeated on 35 (8X4).

Earlier, the script unfolded as expected as newly-appointed Indian Test skipper Anil Kumble won the toss and choose to bat on what seemed as a batsmen-friendly wicket. Wasim Jaffer and Dinesh Karthik walked out into the middle, but Karthik's poor form continued to hurt him like a nail from an old shoe. His score of one will hurt him, especially at a venue where he had established himself as someone who dared to graft it out in Test matches.

The 22-year-old Tamil Nadu batsman played away from his body, and his front foot was rooted right in the crease, giving a healthy edge on the first delivery of Sohail Tanvir to stand-in skipper Younis Khan to the joy of the entire Green Brigade.

There was a definite reason to celebrate as there was no ghost in the pitch, no uneven bounce and the wicket was considered paradise for batsmen. Besides, the Pakistan bowling attack looked quite toothless. While Shoaib Akhtar confined himself to the fine-leg boundary after a four over spell, Mohammed Sami looked unfit. Tanvir tried to exploit the morning conditions at Eden and was quite nippy, but that's it.

Wasim Jaffer is one of the most stylish right-hand opener that India has ever had and he played with cautious aggression reaching 65 at lunch. His 50 came off just 64 balls as he drove Sohail Tanvir down the ground and then backed it with an elegant square-cut. His innings was one of raw stroke-play milled with delicate batting, an affair to remember between the willow and leather.

At the other end, Rahul Dravid with an unbeaten 35 raised visions of another vintage innings hand-picked from the annals of cricket history as he flicked the balls of his pads and mixed them with elegant drives. A square drive off Mohammad Sami and a flick off Danish Kaneria were to be remembered forever.

The 100 of the Indian innings came of just 25.3 overs with Jaffer looking a picture of confidence and Dravid, ''The Wall'' as ever, and they both built the innings brick by brick as they reached their century partnership off 153 balls with the former notching up another boundary of his legs.

UNI

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