India on course for victory

RAWALPINDI: Vice-captain Rahul Dravid hit a magnificent career-best 270 yesterday to put India on course for a historic Test series win against Pakistan. 

Dravid batted for more than 12 hours, hitting 34 fours and a six, for his fifth Test double century as the visitors were bowled out for 600 on the third day of the deciding third Test. 

That was a lead of 376 as Pakistan had made a paltry 224 in their first innings and by the close of play, the home side were reeling at 49 for two, having lost openers Imran Farhat (3) and Taufeeq Umar (13). 

Dravid surpassed Sunil Gavaskar’s Indian record of four career double centuries and beat his own previous best innings of 233, scored against Australia in Adelaide last December. 

His 270 was the third highest score by an Indian, behind Sehwag’s 309 in the first Test of this series at Multan and Vangipurappu Laxman’s 281 against Australia at Calcutta in 2001. 

Dravid raised 131 for the fifth wicket with captain Saurav Ganguly (77) and 98 for the sixth with Yuvraj Singh (47) as the Pakistani bowlers struggled on an easing wicket. 

They had to labour without paceman Shoaib Akhtar, who did not take the field after rupturing a back muscle in a fall while bowling on Wednesday. 

Asim Kamal, who was hit on his right elbow at forward short-leg by a vicious Ganguly pull on Wednesday, was also absent from the field. 

“Dravid has laid the foundation for us to win. His form in the last few months has been a big boost to the team,” Indian coach John Wright told reporters. “The first hour will be important tomorrow. We have the edge but we still have to finish the job.” 

India, playing their first full series in Pakistan since 1989-90, won the first Test by an innings and 52 runs but the hosts hit back in Lahore with a nine-wicket victory.  

India had resumed on 342 for four with Dravid immediately flicking medium-pacer Fazl-e-Akbar for four. Ganguly, batting fluently, steered Mohammad Sami backward of point for two of his 12 boundaries but the Indian skipper was run out when he made the basic error of not grounding his bat while completing a quick single to Farhat at point. 

Left-hander Yuvraj started with a flourish but was trapped lbw by paceman Sami. 

Dravid raised his 200 off the 424th ball he faced, taking a quick single off leg-spinner Danish Kaneria and celebrating by taking off his helmet and saluting the Indian dressing room. – Reuters 

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