Kolkata, Nov 30: After winning the toss and electing to bat first, India capped a perfect day of cricket at the Eden Gardens, scoring 351 for the loss of just three wickets. The day belonged to opener Wasim Jaffer, who scored a brilliant unbeaten century and at close, the Mumbai batsman was on 192.
Jaffer looked imperious at the wicket, fairly relaxed and composed as he took charge of proceedings. He reached his fifty in fairly quick time, as he scoring three superb boundaries off Sohail Tanvir. After reaching his fifty, Jaffer seemed in complete control of his innings, taking heavy toll of anything loose from the Pakistani bowlers.
As his innings graduated, Jaffer took a special liking to Sohail Tanvir and Danish Kaneria, clobbering them through delightful ground strokes for 144 runs off 164 balls (combined). The Pakistani bowlers tried their level best to dislodge him, but the Indian opener tackled them with aplomb and poise. He now has a hundred against every opposition he has faced - West Indies, Pakistan, South Africa, England and Bangladesh.
He brought his hundred up in style, as he punched Danish Kaneria off the backfoot and through the covers for four. In the same over, he played some delightful wristy strokes for boundaries. His first century against Pakistan came off 150 balls, with 20 gorgeous hits to the fence. His last twelve runs before tea came through consecutive boundaries off Sohail Tanvir.
Jaffer's innings was written with majestic strokes in front and square of the wicket. His wristwork against the spinners would have made proud. At times, there was a touch of arrogance, especially when he dispatched Sohail Tanvir for consecutive boundaries very regularly. A predominantly off-side player, Jaffer's wagon-wheel typified his abilities. He scored 130 runs (21 fours) on the leg-side, while the rest (11 fours) came through punches and cuts on the off.
Providing him with great support was Sachin Tendulkar. The master walked into bat, when India were 138 for two, and carried off from where he left off from the Kotla. Tendulkar looked in great form, as he pounced on anything short and loose from the Pakistanis. Tendulkar looked positive right from the word go, and expanded the scope of his innings as it progressed. Just as he looked ominous for the Pakistanis, Danish Kaneria removed him through a wrong'un that beat him all ends up. Tendulkar finally departed for a brilliant 82, filled with some of his traditional strokes.
Earlier in the day, Jaffer added 136 runs with India's number three, Rahul Dravid who had to come in to bat in a familiar position, after India lost Karthik early. He and Jaffer duo survived a fiery spell from Shoaib Akhtar, but once he finished his spell, India went on a run-scoring spree. Once he got his eyes in, Dravid played some delightful strokes all around the park. Dravid reached his fifty before being given out by Billy Doctrove, caught behind off Kaneria.
India made a disastrous start to the day, losing out-of-form opener Dinesh Karthik in the very second over. Karthik opened the face of the bat to one that was full and angling away from him from Tanvir. There was hardly an foot movement as he pushed at it. Younis Khan at second slip held it low and clean. India were 2 for 1 at that stage.
Pakistan looked totally out of sorts all through the day, with their fielders guilty of conceding many runs through simple fielding mistakes. Rather than making things happen, Pakistani bowlers played on the batsmen's mistakes. Their bowling looked pedestrian if not unfit. Shoaib Akhtar, who had major fitness concerns before the Test match, bowled just 9 overs in the day, while Sohail Tanvir was the most expensive bowler on the park, conceding 118 off 24 overs.