Virender Sehwag struck his second 200-plus score but twin strikes by Danish Kaneria in the last session left Pakistan smelling blood on the third day of the third and final Test against India today.
Despite Sehwag's belligerent 201, the huge first innings target seemed to weigh heavily on the Indians who were 379 for six at close, having managed to go past the follow-on mark but still 191 runs in arrears.
V.V.S. Laxman was finally among runs and picked the gaps in his trademark style to remain unbeaten on 51, with Irfan Pathan yet to open his account at stumps.
That no other batsman managed to cross fifty pointed to the strain on the Indians' shoulders as well as the perseverence of the visitors on a track that has shown hint of cracking but still was still very good for batting.
Kaneria (3-97) succeeded due to his guile in combination with the batsmen's foolhardiness while Mohammad Sami (2-80) was a typical example of a fast bowler ploughing his way on an unforgiving pitch.
There were a couple of individual milestones for the Indians fans to cherish.
Sachin Tendulkar surpassed Brian Lara (10,094) in the all time batting aggregate list while Virender Sehwag crossed the 3,000-run mark when he reached 160.
Tendulkar moved past Lara in the all time batting charts when he reached 18. But he fell short of the highest Indian aggregate of Sunil Gavaskar's 10,122 by four runs as he miscued a drive for a simple catch at point and was dismissed for 41.
The 35th Test hundred still eluded the Mumbai batsman as he overcame some anxious moments while facing Sami who got the reverse swing going very well.
Tendulkar was beginning to assert himself with a few attacking shots on the on-side against Kaneria and off-spinner Arshad Khan when he fell.
Trying to loft Shahid Afridi, the 31-year old ended up holing out to Younis Khan. His 71-ball knock contained seven boundaries and formed one half of the 85-run third wicket stand with Sehwag.
Rahul Dravid was the other prized scalp Pakistan picked in the post-lunch session to push India on the backfoot.
Dravid (22) was trapped leg before wicket by Kaneria with the score at 172. Sehwag and Dravid put on 74 runs for the second wicket before Kaneria had the Indian vice-captain.
The host lost the wicket of opener Gautham Gambhir mid-way through the pre-lunch session.
Gambhir, fishing outside the off-stump, gave a simple catch in the slips with the team's score reading 98 in the 24th over. Gambhir made 24 (97m, 68b, three fours).
Sehwag was on a song and executed a flurry of shots to enthrall a near-capacity crowd. He reached the 150 mark in style, hoisting Kaneria for a huge six.
The Delhi batsman had to slow down after the fall of Tendulkar but accelerated the pace of scoring beautifully as he approached his 200.
He drove Abdul Razzaq through the mid off region to move to 199, and then seemed uncharacteristically nervous against Kaneria.
A mistimed heave hung up in the air before it fell in no man's land for his double ton.
In the same over, he failed to check his drive and was caught and bowled by the leg spinner. His 201 came from 262 balls with 28 fours and two sixes in five hours and 34 minutes.
Sami was impressive as he probed the batsmen's weakness and the deadness of the pitch with his searing pace.
He bowled nine overs on the trot at one stage, a fiery spell that tested Sehwag with a series of short pitched deliveries at above 90 mph speed.
But the cavalier batsman weathered the storm and asserted himself with a crashing boundary to point fence.
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