Danish Kaneria, the Pakistan legspinner, feels his wicket of Mahendra Singh Dhoni shortly before stumps on day two was a turning point for Pakistan in the Feroz Shah Kotla Test. Kaneria said that moment allowed Pakistan the chance to come back in the game, and given the aim was to set India at least a 300-run target, he could have a winning role in the series opener.
"Sachin Tendulkar's run out and disturbing the Dhoni-[VVS] Laxman partnership were important" said Kaneria after an absorbing day's play. "Dhoni's wicket was a good breakthrough, especially when they have a long tail. Dhoni is in good form and is an aggressive player who keeps the scoreboard ticking. So claiming his wicket has helped the team a lot."
India were in serious trouble at 93 for 5 but a115-run sixth-wicket stand between Laxman and Dhoni took them extremely close to Pakistan's total of 231. Kaneria still felt the match was could swing either team's way.
"This is a five-day match and every day is different with one team up one day and another the next day. Today it is balanced," he said. "We have come back in the match after the breakthrough. Tomorrow morning we will do well."
Batting on day four, said Kaneria, would not be easy. "We did not have the first innings advantage but we'll give them a target as the fourth day will be difficult to bat with the wicket deteriorating and becoming very slow and low. If we give them a target of 300 we can win the match.
"There has not been much sunlight on these two days so wicket has not broken yet. It could be difficult to play spin tomorrow. We will like to come and bowl them out in the morning tomorrow. I can have a vital role in winning the match for Pakistan."
Meanwhile, injured fast bowler Umar Gul, ruled out of this Test with a back sprain, remains in doubt for the second Test. According to Salahuddin Ahmed, chief selector, Pakistan may call up Rao Iftikhar Anjum as his replacement. "I don't think Gul will be fit for the second Test. We may bring Iftikhar Anjum back to India," Salahuddin told PTI. "Iftikhar did very well in the ODIs against South Africa."
An unnamed source in the Pakistan team disclosed that a decision on Gul would be taken in the next few days. "We have sent the [MRI] reports to Pakistan and after consulting with the orthopedics and other medical experts a decision will be taken on whether to retain him or send him back," the source said.