Misbah helps Pakistan avert follow-on

Published: Tuesday, December 11, 2007, 12:23 [IST]
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Bangalore: Misbah-ul-Haq closed in on a second successive century as Pakistan avoided a follow-on to brighten their chances of forcing a draw in the third and final Test against India here at the Chinnaswami Stadium on Tuesday.

The middle-order batsman followed his second-Test 161 with a resolute 99 not out to help his team reach 470-6 in their first innings at lunch on the penultimate day in reply to India's 626.

Debutant Yasir Arafat was unbeaten on 21 at the interval.

Needing 427 to make India bat again, Pakistan achieved their target in the second hour during a 144-run stand for the sixth between Misbah and Kamran Akmal on a placid track after resuming at 369-5.

India also earned a dubious distinction of conceding a record 72 extras in a Test innings, surpassing the previous highest of 71 by the West Indies against Pakistan at Georgetown in 1988.

The sundries were the third-highest contributor in the innings after Misbah and stand-in captain Younis Khan (80).

With the pitch offering little assistance to seamers and spinners, India continued to find wickets hard to come by. None of their bowlers could trouble Misbah and Akmal.

It was the second successive time that the pair helped their team avert the follow-on, having already done it in the drawn second Test at Kolkata with impressive centuries.

When off-spinner Harbhajan Singh had Akmal stumped by Dinesh Karthik in the second hour, Pakistan were past the follow-on mark.

Akmal, 32 overnight, was more aggressive than his partner and executed some handsome shots during his eighth half-century in 38 Tests. He hit 12 fours in his 114-ball knock.

But there was no stopping the 33-year-old Misbah, who continued to thwart the Indian attack with a solid defence and a right shot-selection. He has already added 45 to his overnight 54. His 256-ball contained 13 fours.

India had gone into the match with a new-look pace attack, but neither Irfan Pathan nor Ishant Sharma could provide the breakthrough in the crucial opening hour. Experienced spinners Anil Kumble and Harbhajan also struggled.

India lead 1-0 in the series following their six-wicket victory in the opening Test in New Delhi.

Brief Scores (at lunch, D-4):

India Ist innings 626 Vs Pakistan Ist innings 470/6 (Misbah 99 n o;Younis 80, Butt 68, Akmal 65; Harbhajan 2 for 108, Kumble 1 for 89, Pathan 1 for 76)


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