Unfair for Imran to single me out: Shoaib

Shoaib Akhtar has defended himself from critical comments cast by Imran Khan after Pakistan’s 1-0 Test series defeat to India.

Imran, former Pakistan captain, told an Indian news channel that the result could easily have been 3-0 if their spearhead had applied himself. But Shoaib felt the absence of Mohammad Asif and Umar Gul, out with elbow and back injuries respectively, seriously hampered their chances.

“Imran Khan, who is a man and former player I admire and respect greatly, singled me out in his television analysis and said I should be disappointed with myself,” he said on Bigstarcricket.com. “I realise he was being kind in saying I am a match-winner, but I can’t win Test matches on my own.”

India’s charge halted by bad light

When India left Pakistan just 47 overs to score an improbable 374 for victory, the Bangalore Test appeared to be meandering to a draw. As the opening pair added 44, thoughts turned to how soon the match could be called off but dramatic interventions from Anil Kumble and Yuvraj Singh pushed Pakistan to the precipice before bad light saved them from acute embarrassment with 11 overs still to be bowled. The playing conditions didn’t allow the use of floodlights, leaving India to rue a declaration that probably came half an hour too late. However, they would have been satisfied to clinch their first home Test series victory against Pakistan since 1979-80.

Misbah and Ishant light up the day

misbahMisbah-ul-Haq, superbly supported by Kamran Akmal and Yasir Arafat, shepherded Pakistan to safety, but India overcame the early loss of both openers to stretch their lead to 220 by stumps. Sourav Ganguly’s brilliant half-century led the Indian effort, on a pitch that didn’t deteriorate like it was expected to. Misbah’s unbeaten133 was the focal point of the day’s play, but there was also an eye-catching spell from Ishant Sharma, whose pace and ability to extract bounce from the dodo-dead surface triggered Pakistan’s slide from 525 for 6 to 537 all out.

Manner in which I was dropped wasn’t right – Ganguly

Sourav Ganguly has said that his forced exile from international cricket made him more determined to prove a point. He also said that he intends to play through 2008.

“Not better, but probably more determined,” Ganguly told the Kolkata-based Telegraph. “I wish to add that the circumstances and the manner in which I got dropped just weren’t right. I don’t have an issue with being left out, that’s part of the game, but the manner wasn’t right.”

Younis and Misbah keep Pakistan afloat

After their efforts that saved the Kolkata Test, Misbah-ul-Haq and Kamran Akmal staged another rearguard action that brightened Pakistan’s chances of avoiding the follow-on in the final Test. Pakistan had slumped to 288 for 5 midway through the afternoon, but their unbeaten 81-run partnership righted the balance somewhat on a day when the Indian bowlers had to work exceptionally hard for little reward. The variable bounce challenged the batsmen, but also took its toll on the Indians, with 31 byes conceded in an astonishing tally of 70 extras.

Ganguly and Pathan pile on the agony for Pakistan

The last time Pakistan played here, Inzamam-ul-Haq’s brilliance and Younis Khan’s appetite for the long haul shut India out of a Test match. There was perfect symmetry here, only this time they were on the receiving end, with Yuvraj Singh reprising Inzamam’s class and Sourav Ganguly batting on and on in the manner that Younis had back in 2005. By the time he was out for 239 on the stroke of tea, India had gone past 600, and thoughts of a series-levelling victory had long since ebbed away from the Pakistan camp. By stumps, they had whittled away 86 from the deficit, losing Yasir Hameed along the way.

Ganguly helps India past 450

gangulyWith Bangalore’s new metro system being built, most of the traffic on Mahatma Gandhi Road, which adjoins the stadium, is one way. And it was a similar story out on the pitch as India continued to pile on the runs and the punishment on the second morning. Yasir Arafat added to his debut tally with the wicket of Dinesh Karthik, but with Sourav Ganguly carrying on serenely, India appeared set for at least 500.

Fitness favours Pakistan in high-stakes finale

It’s a short gap between the second and third Tests but it’s been packed with incident: injuries in the Indian camp; a leadership crisis in the Pakistan squad and the weather turning hostile a couple of days before the Test. That’s only fitting, given the high stakes involved in this match. Simply put, India will win the series if they don’t lose here, Pakistan must win to draw it.

India sweat over Dravid’s form ahead of Australia tour

Less than three weeks before India’s high-profile Test series in Australia, concerns persist over the form of batting mainstay Rahul Dravid.

Since quitting the captaincy in September, the 34-year-old has struggled to recapture the kind of form that established him as one of the world’s top batsmen. While his place in the line-up for the four-Test tour starting on December 26 is not in doubt, the final Test against Pakistan beginning on Saturday (tomorrow) presents him with a final opportunity to find his touch before heading to Australia.

Malik ruled out of Bangalore Test

malikShoaib Malik, the Pakistan captain, has been ruled out of the final Test against India in Bangalore. Malik hasn’t recovered from the ankle injury he suffered during training after the loss to India in the first Test in Delhi.

Malik, who missed the Test in Kolkata, consulted a orthopedic surgeon in Bangalore, who advised him five days’ rest. Younis Khan, the team’s vice-captain, is expected to lead the team in Malik’s absence.