Younis Khan waltzes his way into record books

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Younis Khan waltzes his way into record books

Azhar also makes merry as Pakistan squeeze the life out of Australian bowling to post 304-2

By James Jose/senior Reporter

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Published: Fri 31 Oct 2014, 9:59 AM

Last updated: Fri 3 Apr 2015, 7:13 PM

It was sheer class and brilliance from Younis Khan as he put the skates on, en route to his 27th Test hundred at the Zayed International Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi. — Kt photos by Nezar Balout

The Australians have got fed up of seeing this man. He has been a thorn in their flesh over the past week. Younis Khan didn’t have much to write home about against them, prior to this two-Test series. He didn’t have a century against them nor was his average impressive. But it seems, the battle-hardened veteran is making up for lost time.

And now over a span of these two Tests, it seems Younis, who is respectfully addressed ‘bhai’ by his teammates, can even bat with his eyes shut against them. The 36-year-old, who cracked back-to-back Test hundreds in Dubai, made the Aussies his bunny yet again by galloping to a third consecutive ton on the first day of the second Test at the Shaikh Zayed International Cricket Stadium on Thursday.

It was sheer class and brilliance from the man as he put the skates on, en route to his 27th hundred as Pakistan squeezed the life out of the Australians. His unbeaten knock and a fantastic support act from Azhar Ali, who too helped himself to his sixth hundred and first against Australia meant, Pakistan ended the day on 304 for two.

Younis also made records tumble. He became the first batsman in 90 years to score three consecutive hundreds against the Aussies after the late Englishman Herbert Sutcliffe. Younis also became the fourth Pakistani to crack three consecutive hundreds in three innings after Zaheer Abbas, Mudassar Nazar and Mohammad Yousuf.

Younis will resume on 111, while Ali on 101, when umpires call play on Friday morning. The duo has so far put on 208 for the third wicket.

Australian captain Michael Clarke’s divine intervention didn’t happen as his opposite number Misbah-ul-Haq won his fifth toss in six Tests in Abu Dhabi. It was pretty much uphill after that for the Aussies on a pitch which reminded of the Australian rock band AC/DC’s song ‘Highway to Hell.”

Pakistan have so far amassed 1037 runs, losing 12 wickets over six days of Test cricket on this tour.

Azhar ali celebrates his ton against Australia

Pakistan kept faith in the same side that won in Dubai, while Australia made two bold changes. Clarke felt pace is their strength and sacrificed left-arm spinner Steve O’Keefe for Mitchell Starc, who has the ability to reverse swing. That left him with a lone specialist spinner in Nathan Lyon with others backing up with their part-time.

But, in hindsight, Clarke might be ruing his decision in dropping O’Keefe as Lyon got some sharp turn in his sixth over itself. Clarke more or less backed his batsmen with Glenn Maxwell set to come in for the out of sorts Alex Doolan at No.3.

There was absolutely nothing on this strip for the quicks. It resembled more like a 22-yard stretch of saw dust. The curator Mohan Singh, who hails from Mohali, India, which is known for its sporting wicket, generally prepares surfaces, which gives a fair chance to the bowlers as well. But with Pakistan keen to preserve a lead and wrap their first series at home in 20 years, he might have been instructed by the team management to keep it bald and bare to negate the Australian quicks.

Pakistan carried on from where they left with the openers Ahmed Shehzad and Mohammed Hafeez seeing off Mitchell Johnson’s first spell of four overs, early in the morning. Fellow left-armer Mitchell Starc opened with Johnson but was quickly replaced by Peter Siddle, after just one over. Johnson and Siddle bent their backs to extract a bit of bounce to hustle the openers but Shehzad and Hafeez chugged along nicely before Lyon got Australia the breakthrough. The off-spinner, introduced in the 14th over, had missed a couple of edges but managed to get Shehzad plumb in front, in his third over, a little over half hour to go before lunch.

Azhar Ali, who completed 1000 Test runs in the UAE to be third behind countrymen Younis Khan and captain Misbah-ul-Haq, walked in to join Hafeez. Lyon could have claimed another before they took lunch and send the other opener back too when he foxed Hafeez with one which almost turned square. Hafeez didn’t expect it to spin too much, went back for a cut and almost played it on to his stumps.

Pakistan went into lunch on 82 for one at a good pace of three per over. Hafeez resumed on 36 and Azhar on 11 and the duo added 39 for the second wicket before Johnson was rewarded for toiling hard with the wicket of Hafeez. Hafeez fell five runs short of what would have been his 10th half-century, after he was gobbled up by wicketkeeper Brad Haddin. Younis and Ali enjoy each other’s company and the latter looks a different batsman altogether with him. Younis was off the blocks guiding Johnson to the third man fence off the first ball he faced. And that was a trailer of what was to come. The veteran galloped towards a 29th half-century in 93 Tests, but had to wait for one run as they went to tea at 158 for two. Pakistan had scored 76 runs from 27 overs and lost one wicket in that session.

Post-tea, the pair brought up their fourth century partnership in 29 innings. Ali later reached his 17th half-century in 67 innings, but it almost wouldn’t have been as he earned two reprieves. After being dropped by Steve Smith at short leg off Lyon when on 34, Ali lunged forward to a leg spinner from Smith, which turned sharply. It took the shoulder of the bat and popped up but an airborne David Warner spilled it at the lone slip. The two then piled on further misery on the Australians, with promises of more to come on the morrow.

james@khaleejtimes.com



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