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Pak bat out last day to force draw

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Published: Wednesday, November 24, 2010, 18:10 [IST]
 
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Pak bat out last day to force draw

Contradicting expectation thats South Africa would put Pakistan in to bat straight off on the final morning of the second test, the Proteas decided to bat out a few more overs and pile on a bigger lead. Picking up from its overnight score of 173/4, South Africa continued to motor along before Mark Boucher was out bowled by Umar Gul for 15 in the 51st over. But Ashwell Prince took the side over the 200-run mark, and was not out on 47 while his partner Johan Botha gave him adeqauet support with an unbeaten 7 by the time South Africa decided to declare at 203/5. The Proteas had set Pakistan a target of 354 to win.

With 82 overs to bat out in order to force a draw, the Pakistan openers had the challenging task of setting their side a strong foundation. They went about the job cautiously at first, largely content just fending off the fiery new-ball pair of Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel. The first four of the innings only came in the 8th over, when Mohammad Hafeez got Morkel away front of point. In the next over, Taufeeq Umar followed suit, sending Steyn for a boundary past gully. The runs from then on came fairly frequently, but the batsmen were obviously more concerned with preserving their wickets.

Unfortunately, falling short of that objective, Taufeeq Umar was out to a resurgent Botha, who used his off-spin deceptively to trap Umar in front. Expectations were high with Azhar Ali, the star of Pakistan's first innings, walking to the crease. Could he pull off another strong innings? But there was already trouble at the other end. In the fortuitous 22nd over, the other opener Mohammad Hafees, was trapped plumb in front by Paul Harris for 34. Just two balls later, Younis Khan had to return to the hut for a duck when he was out to Harris in similar fashion. Pakistan were wobbling and needed some stability. Enter Captain Courageous Misbah-ul-Haq. He and Azhar Ali dug in their heels well and batted with character.

Harris may have been the ace in the South African's pack, but that didn't hinder Misbah from going after him. In the 36th over, he hit Harris for two boundaries in sucessive deliveries, one to square leg and one straight down the ground. Those shots took Pakistan over the 100-run mark in teh 36th over, with 46 overs left to bat out in the day. Having helped stabilise the innings, captain Misbah and Ali, picked Botha for 8 runs in the 46th over, taking Pakistan to 125/3.

But Misbah wasn't finished with business. In the 49th over, he notched up one more fifty and that too in style, with a sweep off Botha to the fine leg boundary. 16 overs later, with Misbah playing a very patient innings, he finally brought up the team's 150 with a four to the midwicket boundary off Botha. Pakistan batted till the end of the 67th over with the score at 513/3 when South Africa called off the match and it was declared a draw.

A lot of positives emerged from the encounter - azhar ali's temperament, younis's return, tanvir as the new-ball bowling option and Mishab-ul-Haq's gritty captaincy. South Africa will no doubt be wondering where their tactics could have gone wrong. Twice they had Pakistan on the mat, in this Test and the previous one, but could not convert Pakistan's vulnerability to defeat. Pakistan would have liked to come away from the series with a victory under their belt, but that was an impossibility with South Africa's strong batting to contend with.

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