India moved to the brink of victory in the opening Test against Pakistan yesterday after an assertive performance by their top-order batsmen on day four in New Delhi.
An unbroken 78-run partnership for the fourth wicket between former captains Sourav Ganguly (48 not out) and Sachin Tendulkar (32 not out) boosted India to 171 for three at stumps, just 32 runs short of the victory target of 203.
Pakistan scored 231 and 247 in their two innings, while India posted 276 in their first effort.
Before Ganguly and Tendulkar accelerated India's run chase, the home side got impetus from opener Wasim Jaffer's brisk 53 and his 82-run stand for the second wicket with Rahul Dravid, who contributed 34.
The Jaffer-Dravid stand spiked Pakistan's hopes of ripping through India's top-order after the first-over dismissal of opener Dinesh Karthik.
Tendulkar passed a significant milestone, surpassing the run aggregate of Australian Allan Border to become Test cricket's second highest run-scorer behind former West Indies captain Brian Lara.
Tendulkar went past Border's aggregate of 11,174 runs when he crossed for a single that notched his 25th run. Lara scored 11,953 Test runs.
Tendulkar's unbeaten 86-ball knock contained five fours, but Ganguly displayed more sparkle as he struck eight boundaries off 61 deliveries.
Pakistan ace Shoaib Akhtar claimed all three wickets to fall in India's second innings.
Akhtar made an early breakthrough by inducing an edge from Karthik (1) to wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal, but then had a long wait to break the Jaffer-Dravid partnership.
Jaffer miscued a hook off the fast bowler and Salman Butt took a diving catch at square-leg, while an incutter dislodged Dravid's leg-stump.
India were 93-3 when Dravid fell and the outcome of the Test was in the balance, but Ganguly and Tendulkar's partnership put India within touching distance of victory against their arch rival.
Earlier, Pakistan resumed at the overnight score of 212 for five, but managed to add just 35 runs as paceman Zaheer Khan (2-45) and seamer Ganguly (2-20) cleaned up the tail.
Zaheer removed overnight batsman Akmal in the day's first over.
Playing a drive away from his body, Akmal was snapped up by substitute fielder Yuvraj Singh at point. Khan struck again when Sohail Tanvir (13) was caught by Harbhajan Singh at square-leg.
Ganguly then took two wickets in his only over of the day.
Misbah-ul-Haq fell trying to hoist the ball over the mid-on fence, with Karthik taking the catch, and two balls later Mohammad Sami (5) fell to a catch by Jaffer at square-leg.
Last man Danish Kaneria was run out off his first ball.