Yousuf cracks record eighth ton to up morale of Pakistan

mohdMohammad Yousuf cracked a record eighth ton in a calendar year to shield Pakistan from what could have been an embarrassing first innings rout against the West Indies, on the opening day of the third and final Test here at the National Stadium on Monday.

Even as an expected batting paradise turned out to be quite a difficult pitch, Yousuf played almost flawlessly for a 102 as Pakistan inched their way to 257-7 with Kamran Akmal (18) and Shahid Nazir (0) the unbeaten batsmen at stumps.

It may not have been the sort of end-of-the-day card Pakistan captain Inzamam-ul-Haq would have targeted when he opted to bat on a grassless wicket after winning the toss. But it might have been worse without yet another class act from Yousuf, who continues to fetch piles of runs as if they grew on trees.

It was the Lahore batsman’s eighth century in 2006, a new record surpassing the legendary duo of Vivian Richards (1976) and Aravinda de Silva (1997), who both had seven each. It was also his fifth consecutive ton joining him with South Africa’s Jaques Kallis. Australian legend Don Bradman, with six tons in 1936-37, holds the record.

A 102 from 155 balls that included 15 fours came after almost a four-hour stay on the wicket brought Yousuf to just 47 runs short of another Richards’ record — 1710 runs in a calendar year, the most by any batsman in Test history.

The only other substantial contribution to Pakistan’s first day’s total came from opener Imran Farhat (47) as the hosts struggled on a wicket where the ball kept low and shot-making was a tough and risky job.

Vice-captain Younis Khan (20) threw away his wicket while taking a suicidal run while skipper Inzamam-ul-Haq made a painstaking 18 before suffering the ignominy of becoming part-time spinner Daren Ganga’s first Test victim.

The day may have belonged to Yousuf but West Indian captain Brian Lara must have also left for his team hotel a happy man.

West Indies are well set to restrict Pakistan to something inside 300 runs and that is good enough a performance by a team which has a worst possible Test record away from home for a top team in recent times.

The tourists are 0-1 down and are in a must-win situation to level this three-match series and Lara may well be scenting a rare away Test win here. And the one man he should thank is Corey Collymore. Unrewarded for a sterling showing in the previous two Tests, Collymore removed opener Mohammad Hafeez early in the day and later got rid of Yousuf just after tea to put his team in the driving seat.

Pakistan had cruised to 26 in the tenth over when Collymore shattered the stumps of Hafeez with a swinging delivery to set the tone for the day. Younis added 46 with Imran Farhat and looked in good form with a 41-ball 20 including three fours but gave away his wicket through a senseless run out. Imran drove one back to pacer Daren Powell and rushed for a run but Younis was unable to make it as the bowler’s throw was bang on target.

His fall brought Yousuf, the star of the year, to the crease, triggering another run-feast for the batsman. Imran, who hit two fifties in the last Test in Multan, failed to add another one to his tally, falling just three runs short. Once again he was himself to be blamed as he nicked a Dwayne Bravo delivery with a characteristic flash outside the off stumps and wicket-keeper Denesh Ramdin made no mistake.

Inzamam, going through a lean patch, looked completely off colour as he laboured for his 18 runs from 64 balls. He was in stark contrast to the elegant Yousuf and was put out of his misery by Ganga, a part-time off-break bowler. Not even in his wildest dreams had Ganga thought he would one day get Inzi’s wicket in a Test in Pakistan but that is what happened when the ‘Sultan from Multan’ drove uppishly to give Shivnarine Chanderpaul a straight forward catch. Pakistan were 178-4 and the going was getting tougher for them.

The hosts, who were 174-3 at tea, lost four wickets in the final session including that of Inzamam who departed soon after the interval.

Shoaib Malik added 44 with Yousuf but was trapped LBW by Jerome Taylor. At the other end, Yousuf kept his nerves after having given a reprieve at 63 by Ramdin at the stroke of tea. He produced a flurry of boundaries in the final session to finally score the ton, a crowd of a few thousand had been waiting for throughout the day. With Yousuf placed on 99, it came with a three off Powell and took 155 balls to complete.

Having broken the highest number of hundreds in a calendar year, his sights were now set on getting the next one. Yousuf, on 102, needed just 47 more to become the highest Test scorer in a calendar year. But he mistimed a pull off a Collymore delivery that kept low and Pakistan were 239-6.

Abdul Razzaq, managing to keep his place in the playing eleven after a match-saving 80 in Multan, made a snail-paced 7 off 50 balls before becoming Bravo’s second victim. Suddenly the visitors looked in control with Pakistan 248-7 and completely unsettled. But Kamran, with the help of tail-ender Shahid saw off the last five-and-a-half overs of the day to avoid any more mishaps.

Pakistan would be looking to reach at least the 300 mark today (Tuesday) to improve their position in the match. Batting wasn’t easy on the first day and it would only get a more demanding job as the match progresses. Inzamam’s men will have to avoid conceding a first innings lead to enhance their chances of achieving a 2-0 triumph in the series

Pakistan won toss

Pakistan 1st inns

Mohammad Hafeez b Collymore 18

Imran Farhat c Ramdin b Bravo 47

Younis Khan run out (Powell) 20

Mohammad Yousuf lbw b Collymore 102

*Inzamam-ul-Haq c Chanderpaul b Ganga 18

Shoaib Malik lbw b Taylor 18

Abdul Razzaq c Ramdin b Bravo 7

†Kamran Akmal not out 18

Shahid Nazir not out 0

Extras (b1, lb6, nb2) 9

Total (7 wkts, 88 overs) 257

To bat: Umar Gul, Danish Kaneria

Fall: 1-26, 2-72, 3-112, 4-178, 5-222, 6-239, 7-248

Bowling: Taylor 17-3-55-1; Collymore 17-6-41-2 (1nb); Gayle 16-3-27-0; Powell 20-4-74-0 (1nb); Bravo 14-6-33-2; Ganga 4-0-20-1

West Indies

C H Gayle, D Ganga, R R Sarwan, *B C Lara, R S Morton, S Chanderpaul, D J Bravo, †D Ramdin, J E Taylor, D B Powell, C D Collymore

Series: Pakistan leads the 3-Test series 1-0

Umpires: M R Benson (England) and D J Harper (Australia). TV umpire: Riazuddin. Match referee: R S Mahanama (Sri Lanka)

Previous matches: November 11-14 1st Test Lahore, Pakistan won by 9 wickets. November 19-23 2nd Test Multan, match drawn
Source:The News

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Written by Team CricketViewer on November 28th, 2006 with no comments.
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