India draw first blood under Captain Kumble


Tanmoy Mookherjee,ibnlive.com
Nov 26, 2007 at 01:25pm IST

New Delhi: Anil Kumble had a winning start to his stint as India's Test captain when he led his side to a convincing six-wicket triumph over archrivals Pakistan on the fifth and final day of the opening Test at the Ferozeshah Kotla on Monday.

Needing 32 runs to register a memorable win on the final day with seven wickets remaining, India's road towards victory was interrupted when Sourav Ganguly fell on his overnight score of 48. But Sachin Tendulkar's unbeaten knock of 56 ensured India cruised home within the first half hour to take a 1-0 lead in the three-match Test series.

Shoaib Akhtar, who returned to Test cricket after serving out a ban, bowled with lightening pace on the fourth day, finishing with all four wickets that fell in the Indian second innings. But a fourth innings target of 203 set by the visitors proved to be a cakewalk for the Indian batsmen despite losing a wicket in the first over.

MAN OF THE MOMENT: It was a double delight for Anil Kumble as he was also crowned the man of the match.

The Indian captain, who sizzled with match figures of 7-108 and an important innings of 24 that included a partnership of 54 for the seventh wicket with VVS Laxman, bagged the man of the match award.

The low scoring encounter, which only had one score over 250 from four innings, was largely contributed by a slow Kotla wicket and inspiring spells of bowling from both sides.

India briefly looked in trouble chasing 203 on the fourth day when a hostile Shoaib Akhtar rocked the hosts with a wicket off his first over. But Wasim Jaffer's half-century and an 82-run stand for the second wicket with Rahul Dravid (34) calmed their nerves.

However, the menacing Pakistani fast bowler struck to remove both Jaffer and Dravid on either side of the tea interval, which included the ball of the match to dismiss Dravid.

But India's famed One-Day opening pair of Sourav Ganguly and Tendulkar shared an 88-run stand thereafter to take India to the footsteps of victory.

Pakistan captain Shoaib Malik had elected to bat on the first day, but his batsmen were jolted by India's bowling combination of pace and spin to skittle them out for 231, before India, too, faced the same fate in their first innings.

However, VVS Laxman and MS Dhoni's partnership proved to be crucial as India surged ahead to take a 45-run first innings lead, before the Indian bowlers repeated their act in the second innings. Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh rocked Pakistan's boat on the third day, Pakistan came back with Misbah-ul-Haq being the chief architect once again in the second innings, but Zaheer Khan and Sourav Ganguly's twin blows finished off Pakistan's challenge.

The two sides proceed to Kolkata for the second Test at the Eden Gardens which begins on November 30. The third and final Test will be played at the Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore on December 8.

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