Rawalpindi: Lakshmipathy Balaji spearheaded the Indian attack as the visitors bundled out Pakistan for 224 on the first day of the third and final Test at Rawalpindi today.Balaji took four wickets for the first time in his career as the Pakistani top order collapsed in the bowler-friendly pitch.But the going wasn't easy for India either. Replying to Pakistan's first innings total of 224, India suffered an early setback losing opener Virender Sehwag in the very first delivery of the innings.Sehwag, trying to play Shoaib Akhtar, edged the ball to Yasir Hameed leaving India shocked at a score of 0 for 1.At close on the first day, India were 23 for 1 with Patel (13) and vice-captain Rahul Dravid (10) at the crease.Indian pacers strikeEarlier, the Indian pace trio ripped through the Pakistan batting line up bowling out the hosts for 224. Balaji took the prized scalps of Taufiq Umar (9), Asim Kamal (21), Kamran Akmal (17) and Shoaib Akhtar (0) to leave the Pakistani innings tottering at 137 for 8. The Pakistani tail-enders put up a fight with Mohammad Sami scoring his highest total in a first-class match today. But he was eventually run out by Pathan for 49, bringing an end to the Pakistani innings. Early blowsIndian captain Sourav Ganguly won the toss and elected to field on a grassy pitch that was meant to suit seamers. Though the pacemen stepped up the pressure, it took over 10 overs before things really started going right for them. All three seamers bowled with a tight line and length restricting the Pakistani batsmen from scoring at will.Balaji struck in the 11th over to dismiss Umar and Nehra followed it up with Imran Farhat's wicket in the next over. Farhat was trapped leg before wicket for 16, reducing Pakistan to 34 for two. Pakistan captain Inzamam and Yasir Hameed then tried to do damage control by playing sensibly and adding 44 runs for the third wicket before Pathan removed Hameed.Pathan spell He was caught at second slip by VVS Laxman for 26. The skipper himself did not last long, and was caught behind off Nehra for 15.Vice-captain Yousuf Youhana with a test average of over 50 runs looked all set for another rescue act. But 19 year old Irfan Pathan bowled like a pro, leaving no room for Youhana to score.After poking at a few deliveries from Pathan, Youhana was bowled for 13. Soon after, Asim Kamal was out leg before to Balaji to leave the hosts at 120 for six.Balaji struck again to remove wicket-keeper Kamran Akmal and then Shoaib Akhtar to put India in a commanding position. Veteran spinner Anil Kumble then claimed debutante Fazl-e-Akbar leg before for 25.But Mohammad Sami put up a valiant fight, taking the hosts ahead of 200. He scored a career-best 49 but was run out by Irfan Pathan bringing an end to the Pakistani innings. Team changesMeanwhile, Ganguly has returned at the helm of affairs, after sitting out of the first two matches due to injury. Indian opener Aakash Chopra has been dropped from the team while left arm seamer Ashish Nehra has been brought in place of Ajit Agarkar.Pakistan has replaced Lahore Test hero Umar Gul with rookie fast bowler Fazl-e-Akbar for the Rawalpindi Test.The series is locked at 1-1, with India winning the first Test in Multan by an innings and 52 runs and Pakistan coming out trumps in the second Test in Lahore by 9 wickets.
Topics : Cricket