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Younus holds firm for Pakistan

Pakistan ends third day on 168 for 4, leading by 90 runs with Younus unbeaten on 76

Younus holds firm for Pakistan - Cricket News
A partnership of 116 between veterans Misbah-ul-Haq and Younus Khan helped Pakistan reach 168 for 4 in their second innings.
A defiant rearguard partnership of 116 between veterans Misbah-ul-Haq and Younus Khan rescued Pakistan from acute embarrassment and helped it reach 168 for 4 in their second innings, a lead of 90 runs, at the close of the third day’s play in the first Test against Zimbabwe at Harare Sports Club on Thursday (September 5).

Having conceded a significant first innings deficit of 78, Pakistan lost its top three batsmen either side of lunch and crashed to 23 for 3, a deficit of 55. Another wicket at that stage would have plunged Pakistan into crisis but the ‘old men’ of the team stood firm for the next 48 overs and appeared to have repaired the damage.

Shortly before the close of play, however, Misbah’s concentration snapped and he inexplicably drove Shingi Masakadza to extra cover to depart for a typically patient 52 from 157 deliveries with just four boundaries. Younus stayed till the end and was batting on a 174-ball 76 not out, with seven boundaries.

On a pitch showing increasing signs of decay and taking turn, Zimbabwe may struggle to chase anything in the region of 200 against the in-form Saeed Ajmal with Abdur Rehman as back-up.

Zimbabwe added a further 46 runs in the morning session on the back of smart batting from Elton Chigumbura who took his overnight 40 to 69 with a sensible mix of aggression and defence.

Resuming on 281 for 7, Zimbabwe lost all three remaining wickets to Ajmal who snared Shingi Masakadza lbw, had Chigumbura caught at short leg and then removed Tendai Chatara, the last man, first ball with the doosra, caught at slip.

A solid start was vital for Pakistan as it sought to erase the deficit but an inspired new ball spell from Tinashe Panyangara, the right-arm seamer, undid the top-order immediately. A near-perfect over was too good for Khurram Manzoor who received four probing away swingers just outside off stump before offering no shot to the fifth delivery, an off-cutter which would have hit the top of middle stump.

Azhar Ali, too, was trapped in front for a duck following his lengthy stay in the first innings but Mohammad Hafeez had nobody but himself to blame for falling into a trap as obvious as it was elementary. On a two-paced pitch captains often prefer a man at short cover rather than third slip – and Hamilton Masakadza was no exception. Hafeez (16) duly obliged with a low drive into the hands of Tino Mawoyo. His limited-overs form may have been impressive this year, but Hafeez has endured miserable Test form with a top score of just 18.

Younus settled quickly after his usual, skittish beginning and was soon pushing and nudging singles at will and rotating the strike with ease. Misbah, on the other hand, was happy to absorb long periods of ‘dry’, strokeless play against defensive fields in a bid to outlast the bowlers’ collective stamina. It almost worked, too.

By the close of play, Younus was looking as solid as the pavilion itself and will be eyeing a 22nd Test century. Asad Shafiq, too, made a convincing and busy start. But they still have much work to do on the fourth morning. 

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