Ton-up Younis lifts Pakistan

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Ton-up Younis lifts Pakistan

Hosts reach 219-4 on the opening day of the first Test against Australia. Younis becomes the first Pakistani to score century against every Test playing country.

By Sunil K. Vaidya (sports Editor)

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Published: Thu 23 Oct 2014, 10:33 AM

Last updated: Fri 3 Apr 2015, 7:11 PM

Pakistan’s Younis Khan plays a shot on the opening day of the Test match against Australia in Dubai. KT photo by Mukesh Kamal

Pakistan’s Younis Khan plays a shot on the opening day of the Test match against Australia in Dubai. KT photo by Mukesh Kamal

Dubai: It was a battle of attrition in which Younis Khan emerged as the front runner with a record breaking century that allowed Pakistan a somewhat respectable total (219 for 4) in the face of some hostile pace bowling by Australia’s Mitchell Johnson on the opening day of the first Test at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium.

With his hundred (106, 223 balls, 10 fours, one six), Younis became the first Pakistani to score century against every Test playing country and 12th in the history of the game. But more than his statistical records, for him probably it was a timely reminder to the selectors for dropping him from the ODI squad that was soundly beaten by the Australians before this two-match Test series.

What more, he crossed the three figure mark hoisting Nathan Lyon over long on after a 314-minute vigil at the crease. He fell three minutes later when Johnson jagged one back into him with the second delivery of the new ball, taken by Clarke promptly after 80 overs.

But before that Younis delved deep into the vast repertoire of his 92 Test matches to pull Pakistan out of a deep hole that they found themselves in after two early wickets after four overs (seven for two).

He also had two fruitful partnerships as he smartly paced his innings in front of the near empty house. Younis, who equalled Inzamam-ul-Haq’s record of most centuries (25) by a Pakistani batsman, first joined Azhar Ali (53, 167 balls, six 4s) to steady the ship. Both dug in to counter some fast stuff dished out by Johnson (20-13-22-3) and Peter Siddle (17-8-27-1). With Younis and Azhar unwearyingly playing a waiting game, Pakistan’s scoring crawled at less than two runs an over for the first 40 overs and then picked up gradually to finish the day at 2.49 runs an over.

Azhar, who looked good for a big score on his happy hunting ground, threw his wicket with a lazy drive that ended up in the hands of Alex Doolan at short covers. The compact batsman from Lahore scored a Test hundred on debut at this ground and added two more in the UAE since then.

Then the two Pakistani old warhorses — Younis and skipper Misbah-ul-Haq (34, 103 balls, one 4) got together to put their heads down in the face of some reverse swing by the Australian pacers to add 83 runs for the fourth wicket.

On the dry pitch and higher temperature, particularly in the second session of the play, Australian skipper Michael Clarke astutely used his bowlers in short spells.

However, his fifth bowling option — debutant Mitchell Marsh — was far from an ideal choice on the first-day pitch that had little juice for the bowlers to exploit. Stephen O’Keefe, another new cap, was expected to give tough time to Pakistani batsmen with his left-arm spin but kept bowling wrong leg stump line without troubling them much. With spin expected to dominate the first Test, it was surprising to see the Aussies prefer Mitchell Marsh over Glenn Maxwel.

Maxwell had turned the ball from word go in the only Twenty20 played two weeks ago on the same 22-yard strip. He also a slight edge over debutant Marsh, having played two Tests since taking four wickets on debut against India last year. Johnson could have ended the day with four wickets had Chris Rogers taken a sharp chance at point when Ali was on 22. The ball turned the most for the day when the lights were turned on at the Ring of Fire, indicating that the battle was still in balance.

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