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Misbah stands in India’s way yet again

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Indian bowlers were made to work extremely hard by a good batting show from the Pakistanis coupled with some reluctant umpiring decisions on the third day. The homeside bowled well though but could end up taking just the four wickets in the entire day’s play. Yet again Misbah-ul-Haq has stood firm in defying the Indians. At close on the third day’s play, Misbah-ul-Haq has got Kamran Akmal in a wonderful partnership that ensured safety for their team.

The morning session was a fantastic one for the visitors. The overnight batsmen – Salman Butt and Younus Khan didn’t find any problems in tackling the Indian bowling. Butt was lucky to survive an lbw shout from Pathan which should have been ruled out. Barring that incident, the pair of Butt and Younus almost batted through the first session until Sourav Ganguly got the wicket of Salman Butt out of the blue. Getting some reverse swing with a 47-over old ball, Sourav produced the perfect delivery which pitched around the off stump from over the sticks to make Butt dab at it. The extra bounce and a fraction away movement produced the outside edge which was taken behind and lunch for the Indians wasn’t that bad at all. Butt made 68 in 149 balls with 13 fours after engaging in a 90-run stand with his Captain. At lunch, Pakistan were 180 for 2 in 55 overs with Younus batting beautifully to get 62.

Mohammad Yousuf didn’t show much promise today. He was very nervous, the first runs that he had got was through a leading edge that just eluded Dravid at slips before the lunch break off Kumble’s bowling. The Indians continued to sustain the pressure on Yousuf but at the other end Younus was still a threat as he kept on batting confidently. There were quite a few reverse sweeps that were played by the Pakistani Captain which brought him runs off Harbhajan but it was also the same shot off the same bowler that cut short his knock in the 70th over. Younus paid penalty for trying to play the predetermined shot to a fullish delivery around the legstump that was bowled from round the sticks. Younus (80 from 156 with 8 fours) embarrassingly rushed away from the crease leaving his side at 221 for 3. In the next over itself, India had another ‘Y’ out. Mohammad Yousuf as well threw away his wicket playing a rank bad shot.

After Younus Khan’s exit, things became heated up on the ground for the first time with the Pakistani batsman getting exchanged in an argument with the Indian Captain. The two ground umpires diffused the situation but that seemed to have spoilt Yousuf’s concentration. A loose square drive was played by him to a delivery that was bowled very wide by Pathan which went straight into the hands of Yuvraj at point. That brought plenty of life back in the Test and also among the crowd with Pak at 227 for 4. Yousuf struggled with his 24 that came in 76 balls. India at this stage could have easily got a couple of more wickets before Tea with Harbhajan Singh going past the bats of Misbah and Faisal Iqbal on plenty of occasions. There was also the extra bounce for Bhajji but Pakistan managed to scrape through that session at 265 for 4 in 86 overs.

The next session was a much better one for Pakistan. Yuvraj Singh was given a few overs and he came close at dismissing both Faisal Iqbal (plumb infront but given not out) and Misbah-ul-Haq at the start of the session. India were unlucky and the two batsmen slowly controlled the situation through a promising partnership. Kumble had to resort to the second new ball which was taken in the 93rd over. Both Ishant Sharma and Irfan Pathan bowled their heart out with the brand new cherry. Ishant started to bowl a deadly spell by bending his back and getting the ball to skid through and nip back. A couple of consecutive lbw shouts he had against Misbah which were both turned down but the 19-year-old didn’t lose his heart to produce a nasty delivery that got rid of the partnership. Faisal Iqbal was the batsman to be sent back, he came forward but was taken by surprise by the extra bounce from good length. He tamely got caught at short leg, which was a good field placement from the Indian Captain. Faisal made 22 from 64 and the new man in, Kamran Akmal had to face Ishant and Pathan, who were in good rhythm.

Kamran Akmal has got back into good form after his great century that saved the Kolkata Test. He once again partnered Misbah-ul-Haq to keep the Indians at bay for the remaining part of play. Pakistan closed the day at 369 for 5 after batting out 117 overs. Misbah has got just 54 but has played out 162 balls while Kamran Akmal has kept himself busy with 32 from 57 with 7 fours. There is plenty of work left to do for both these sides to get their desired results – a win for India and a draw for Pakistan.