Kolkata, Nov.30 : Mumbai batsman Wasim Jaffer struck a brilliant and undefeated fifth Test hundred as India moved into an ominous position against Pakistan at the end of the first day's play of the second Test at the Eden Gardens here.
Jaffer unveiled a range of the most breathtaking strokes around the ground as India finished at 352 for three at the close of play. Jaffer was batting on 192, and was given solid support by former skipper Rahul Dravid, who scored 50 in a 134-run stand for the second wicket before apparently being wrongly judged out by West Indian umpire Billy Doctrove.
There then followed a sublime, if at times brutal partnership of 175 runs between Jaffer and Sachin Tendulkar, of which the latter scored 82 before being bowled by leg spinner Danish Kaneria.
Jaffer, compact in defense and offense as always, swiftly left his mark on the Eden Gardens pitch, leaving no one in doubt about his class as an opener.
A straight drive down the ground in the morning session would have been the shot of the day, had he not bettered it four times in one over of left arm fast bowler Sohail Tanvir later. His bony elbows came out for off-side punches and cuts and solid wrists for leg-side clips as India sped away.
After lunch, Pakistan appeared to have cut off the stream of boundaries for a brief while, but Jaffer's touch was not to be denied. When he hit one boundary, he generally followed it with at least one more in the same over.
He hit Tanvir for a brace to move to 99; and two overs later, he brought up his hundred with a drive through cover and then celebrated by clipping two more boundaries through midwicket. A few overs later, Tanvir was clipped, driven and cut for three more in a row, as India raced past 200.
Meanwhile Dravid, surely India's greatest (quasi) opener alongside Sunil Gavaskar, given how early he always comes in, went about his work with typically little fuss. After a couple of early scares, he settled with a redirection through third man and a clip through midwicket.
When Danish Kaneria arrived, he came with gifts for Dravid. With a cover drive to bring up India's fifty and a lovely, wristy late cut in Kaneria's first two overs, Dravid quickly announced that he was wearing the trousers in this relationship. After lunch, he also stalled, preparing seemingly for the big score that has eluded him lately. He would've done it had Billy Doctrove not intervened. Dravid had just reached fifty when he drove at Kaneria; there seemed no edge as Kamran Akmal took the ball somewhere in his midriff. Replays couldn't decide which was worse, Doctrove's decision or Akmal's take.
At the close of play, hometown boy Saurav Ganguly was giving company to Jaffer with an unbeaten 17.
Of the Pakistan bowlers, pace spearhead Shoaib Akhtar bowled only nine overs in the day and went wicketless. The burden of bowling at the Indians was shouldered by Sohail Tanvir, who returned figures of 1 for 118 of 24 overs, Mohammad Sami with none for 56 of 18.3 overs and leg-spinner Danish Kaneria, who finished with two wickets for 126 runs of 30 overs.
Given the condition of the pitch, India could pile on the runs on day two as well and put Pakistan under pressure towards the end of play on Saturday. India leads the three-match series 1-0, and would like to wrap a series victory in Kolkata itself. (ANI)
© 2007 ANI