Misbah and Akmal defy India

Published: Monday, December 10, 2007, 18:07 [IST]
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Pakistan rode on Misbah-ul-Haq's fighting half-century to boost their chances of avoiding a follow-on in the third and final Test against India here on Monday.

The tourists were 369-5 in their first innings at stumps on the third day in reply to India's mammoth 626, needing just 58 more runs to avert the follow-on.

Misbah (54 not out) and Kamran Akmal (32 not out), who made centuries in a similar situation in the previous Test at Kolkata, rallied Pakistan with an unfinished 81-run stand for the sixth wicket.

Pakistan were in trouble at 288-5 before Misbah and Akmal denied India further success with their responsible knocks. Misbah has so far struck eight fours in his second half-century.

India also made a dubious record of conceding 70 extras, their previous highest being 60 against England in 1979.

The hosts lead 1-0 in the series following their six-wicket win in the opening Test in New Delhi. The second match ended in a draw.

Pakistan were strongly placed at 221-2 before stand-in captain Younis Khan was bowled attempting a reverse-sweep off spinner Harbhajan Singh, starting a slide that saw his team lose three crucial wickets in the space of 67 runs.

Younis, leading the team in a second successive Test in the absence of unfit Shoaib Malik, batted confidently during his 156-ball 80 before he fell playing one reverse-sweep too many.

He had played the same shot with success on a couple of occasions in the morning session but missed the line this time off Harbhajan, bowling round the stumps. He struck 12 fours in his 20th half-century.

Younis, who scored a match-saving hundred in the previous Test, propped up the innings with a 90-run stand for the second wicket with Salman Butt (68) and 72 for the next with Mohammad Yousuf (24).

After the reverse-sweep came a poor stroke that led to the dismissal of Yousuf, who uppishly drove left-arm seamer Irfan Pathan to Yuvraj Singh at point a few deliveries after exchanging words with India skipper Anil Kumble.

Pakistan threw away two vital wickets just when Younis, seven overnight, and Yousuf looked set to play long innings on a track which had little for seamers and spinners even on the third day.

The Indian captain kept changing his bowlers but the next success came with the second new ball, with inexperienced Ishant Sharma making amends for a below-par performance by removing Faisal Iqbal.

Seamer Sharma, playing only his second Test, struck in his third over with the new ball when he surprised Iqbal (22) with extra bounce to have him caught by Gautam Gambhir at short-leg.

India struggled for success in the morning on a placid track as Younis batted comfortably against both pace and spin to help his team add 94 to their overnight total of 86-1.

It was part-time seamer Sourav Ganguly who provided the much-needed breakthrough when he dismissed left-handed opener Butt, who could add only 18 to his overnight score of 50.

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