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Mohammad Yousuf’s 20th ton puts Pak ahead

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Mohammad Yousuf brought up his 20th Test Match hundred to build the Pakistan’s advantage in this First Test Match. Although bad light had robbed quite a bit of the cricket (just 76.1 overs bowled in the second day’s play), Yousuf’s unbeaten 107 had got Pakistan into a lead of 59 with six wickets standing. The bearded batsman kept on smiling all the day while batting and had just smashed his 6th hundred of the year 2006!

It was a much better day for cricket with not much of fog in the air and the overall visibility was far better. West Indies stuck to a nice line and length around the offstump to tie down the overnight batsmen – Hafeez and Younis. Soon the patience gave away for Younis Khan whose eyes lit up as he saw a short delivery banged in by Fidel Edwards which he had handsomely pulled but straight into Sarwan’s hands at short mid wicket. It was only the 5th over of the day that Younis had got out, he could add up just a run to his overnight score of 10. Windies continued to get the ball to dart around through all their four seamers used which had left the Pakistani batsmen to drop anchor. The arrival of Mohammad Yousuf saw some betterment in the run rate and with the sun sneaking through, conditions started to look brighter for the batting side.

Mohammad Hafeez found a few boundaries as well and his efforts of hanging in there had helped him to get to his 3rd Test Match fifty for which he had to bat for atleast three hours. It was once again Jerome Taylor coming to the aid of his side as he got a superb inswinging yorker that beat Hafeez with pace to strike him on the pads. Hafeez had battled for 147 balls to score 57 which was a valuable one that had come under testing conditions. Hafeez’s departure had got in the big Inzamam into the middle much to the loud cheer from the Lahori crowd. But their joy was short lived with Inzy returning back to the pavilion with an 8-ball duck. Inzamam was bowled through the gate as he got foxed in the flight after he went for a drive on the full to a chinaman delivery from Dave Mohammed that had dipped down beautifully. Pak went to lunch at 141 for 4 which meant that an inspired spell of bowling from Windies could still get them out under 300, so a lot of work had to be done after lunch for Yousuf and co.

The post lunch session was one in which Shoaib Malik had brilliantly applied himself to put up a solid partnership with Yousuf. The bowlers didn’t get much sideways movement and also the reverse swing to allow the 5th wicket partnership to take off. The pair of Yousuf and Malik had been slightly cautious but the runs were coming steadily as they added 84 runs in the 32 overs bowled in the second session.

With 80 overs gone by, Lara took the second new ball right away after the resumption of play in the last session. The start was a bad one for the tourists with Fidel Edwards bowling a couple of no-balls which got thrashed for boundaries. The runs were now coming at a fair clip with the ball coming on nicely to fuel strokeplay. Yousuf helped himself to yet another century while Shoaib Malik got to his fifth Test Match fifty. After just 11 overs were bowled, the two umpires had offered the light to the batsmen who decided to go home with Pak at 265 for 4 after 91 overs. Yousuf’s unbeaten 107 had come in just 190 balls with 14 boundaries. His partner Shoaib Malik had to work hard for his 61 which took him 149 balls with the help of 8 fours and a six that he had hit Dave Mohammed when he was on just 1! This partnership between Yousuf and Malik is 125 runs and is Pak’s new best for the fifth wicket overtaking the previous best of 115 between Asim Kamal and Shahid Afridi in the last Pak tour of WI.

Things would have been different for the West Indies had Ganga taken a low catch at gully offered by Yousuf when he was on 43 and then by Jerome Taylor who had decided to run all the way from his follow through to point to try and take a miscued hit from Yousuf that had ballooned up. It was a catch that could have been taken by the point fielder and the gully fielder but Taylor had given the call and in the end couldn’t take it safely. Yousuf had just got to his hundred in the previous delivery with a leg glance for a boundary. It was not just two times lucky for Yousuf but three times lucky as an appeal for a stumping wasn’t referred to the third umpire by Asoka de Silva. Replays showed that Yousuf had got his backleg just on the crease when Ramdin had whipped the bails off. It was Dave Mohammed the bowler who had gone past the outside edge of Yousuf on 53 with a googly that turned away.

The homeside would be trying to stretch their lead to as much as they can to make sure that they bat only once in this Test Match. The hope for West Indies is to delay the Pakistani declaration and bat well in their second innings and let the bad light eat away the time. The optimistic might say that Windies can still get the remaining wickets and get back in the match!

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