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Test batting: the nominees

ESPNcricinfo staff

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Kallis' Karachi 155 was the high point of his golden year © AFP
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Jacques Kallis: 155 v Pakistan
First innings, Karachi
Scorecard
The tour of Pakistan was Kallis' first opportunity to respond to his omission from the South Africa squad for the World Twenty20, and he did it in style. After the top three had given South Africa a solid start in Karachi, Kallis capitalised with a classy, technically perfect 155. He started cautiously before accelerating to complete his fastest Test century. His drives were immaculate as usual, and the sweep shot was effectively employed against the spinners. His innings set the tone for the series: South Africa dominated Pakistan in both games, and it was the first of five centuries for Kallis in four Tests.

Kevin Pietersen: 134 v India
Second innings, Lord's
Scorecard
Going into the Tests against India, Pietersen had had another spectacular summer, with a hundred and a double against West Indies in his previous series. In a tight first Test against India at Lord's, England were in danger of squandering their 97-run first-innings advantage. Pietersen came in after the openers had been dismissed cheaply and soon saw his side slump to 132 for 5. With India's swing bowlers looking dangerous and their foremost match-winner Anil Kumble plugging away, Pietersen came up with a dazzling century. Even with his team in trouble, he was his usual belligerent self: there was no pad play to negate Kumble, and loose balls from the faster bowlers were clinically put away. Pietersen eventually perished, ninth out, in the hunt for quick runs, but not before he had put England in a dominant position.

Michael Vaughan: 124 v India
Second innings, Trent Bridge
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After rain saved India from certain defeat at Lord's, England were on the back foot in the second match at Trent Bridge, having conceded a 283-run first-innings lead. Zaheer Khan, fired up by the jellybean incident on the third day, was bowling with venom and RP Singh was coming off a five-for at Lord's. With England's prospects bleak, Vaughan played a magnificent innings reminiscent of the knocks he played on India's last visit to England. The drives and glides off the quick bowlers were exemplary, and Vaughan handled Kumble with consummate ease, scoring heavily off him in the midwicket region. It needed a dash of misfortune to end his glorious knock: an attempted flick deflected off his thigh pad and rolled agonisingly slowly onto the stumps.



Vaughan: glorious in defeat © Getty Images
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Mohammad Ashraful: 129 v Sri Lanka
Second innings, Colombo
Scorecard
Bangladesh had been destroyed in the previous Test of the series, losing by an innings and 234 runs. The batting had been particularly dire, and there was more of the same in the second Test when they were bundled out for 62 and faced a first-innings deficit of 389. They slumped to 78 for 5 in the second innings, before Ashraful, the newly appointed captain, provided a reminder of his class. He cut out the reckless stroke-making to compile a patient century and put on 191 with Mushfiqur Rahim. The outstanding feature of his innings, which contained 11 boundaries in front of square on the off side, was the aplomb with which Lasith Malinga's scorching yorkers and Muttiah Muralitharan's bag of tricks were handled. While it couldn't prevent an innings defeat, the maturity displayed by Ashraful, long prone to impetuosity, gave Bangladesh cause for cheer.

Shivnarine Chanderpaul: 116 v England
Second innings, Old Trafford
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West Indies hadn't won any of their previous 21 away Tests and had avoided defeat in only four of those. They were also missing Brian Lara, who had retired after the World Cup, and Ramnaresh Sarwan (injured). Their batsmen had only managed two fifties in the last three innings; so when England set them 455 to chase, or six sessions to play out, in the third Test at Old Trafford, another crushing loss loomed. Chanderpaul, though, had other plans, and with his defiant century raised visions of the record chase of 418 he had orchestrated against Australia at St John's in 2003. The fast bowlers were extracting swing at pace, and Monty Panesar was getting the ball to spin viciously from the rough, but Chanderpaul mixed infuriating pad-play with impeccably-timed flicks behind square and lovely drives through cover to give England some anxious moments. West Indies eventually fell short as their last two batsmen lost their wickets without scoring, leaving Chanderpaul stranded on a seven-hour 116.

Yuvraj Singh: 169 v Pakistan
First innings, Bangalore
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Despite a string of consistent performances in the limited-overs format, Yuvraj had struggled to make the Indian Test side. An opportunity finally came his way in Bangalore against Pakistan, thanks to an injury to Sachin Tendulkar. The conditions, when he came in to bat, were daunting: at a ground where India had blown a series lead against the same opponents in 2005, they were 61 for 4 on a fresh pitch, with Dinesh Karthik the only recognised batsman to follow. Yuvraj countered with a tour de force, full of attacking intent and punctuated with scintillating cover-drives, to put his side in a position of immense strength. Any doubts regarding his technique in the longer version of the game were emphatically laid to rest.

Younis Khan: 126 v South Africa
Second innings, Karachi
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Twin centuries from Jacques Kallis set Pakistan a daunting target of 424 to win the first Test in Karachi. Pakistan got off to a familiar start, with both openers falling cheaply. Mohammad Yousuf and Inzamam-ul-Haq were missing from the line-up, and Younis Khan took it upon himself to thwart South Africa with a frenetic assault. He started with conventional strokes, favouring cover-drives and square-drives, but soon branched out to show the full repertoire, reverse-sweeping Graeme Smith for successive fours. Pakistan began the final day needing 278, and their fans could dare to imagine the improbable, thanks to Younis' unbeaten 93 off 99. It wasn't to be, though: he fell to Steyn's reverse swing, and Pakistan lost their last five wickets for 33.



Sangakkara's 192 at Hobart nearly took Sri Lanka to within striking distance of an improbable win © Getty Images
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Kumar Sangakkara: 152 v England
Second innings, Colombo
Scorecard
After his three-hour-plus 45 had given England a vital 93-run first-innings lead in a tight contest, Paul Collingwood termed the sluggish Kandy pitch one on which "you had to scrap for every run". Sangakkara proved him wrong with a free-scoring masterclass that not only neutralised England's advantage but left them struggling to save the match. Sangakkara treated the England bowlers with disdain as he notched up his fourth score of 150-plus in successive Tests. He preferred the off side, scoring two-thirds of his runs there, including 11 boundaries between point and extra cover. His knock saw him upstage Ricky Ponting in the batting charts to become the world's leading batsman.

Kumar Sangakkara: 192 v Australia
Second innings, Hobart
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The Australian juggernaut barely missed the big names who retired after last year's Ashes, as it crushed Sri Lanka in the first Test and set a seemingly impossible target of 507 in the second in Hobart. Six of Sri Lanka's top nine batsmen scored fewer than five, but Sangakkara's glorious 192 ensured the match wasn't all one-way traffic. Ably assisted by Marvan Atapattu at the start of the long haul, Sangakkara guided the visitors to 247 for 3 at the end of the fourth day. A collapse on the fifth morning left him having to shepherd the tail. He refused the singles and decided to cut loose; his last 54 runs contained ten boundaries and a six. His fabulous knock was ended by an umpiring error: Rudi Koertzen ruled him out after the ball deflected off his shoulder onto his helmet and into the hands of slip.

Misbah-ul-Haq: 161 not out v India
First innings, Kolkata
Scorecard
The Test series against India had been a dispiriting affair for Pakistan till lunch on the third day of the second match: they had lost the first Test in Delhi, had lost their captain Shoaib Malik to injury before the match and Shoaib Akhtar was recovering from illness. With all that, India had run up a gigantic total of 616, and half the side had been dismissed with a deficit of 466 runs. Misbah-ul-Haq, all of eight Tests old and yet to score an international century, and Kamran Akmal were the only recognised batsmen in India's way. Misbah had already helped revive Pakistan twice in the first Test, and this time he and Akmal forged an intrepid 207-run sixth-wicket stand. When Akmal fell, Pakistan were still 60 short of the follow-on mark, but Misbah, with some sensible batting, chaperoned them past to safety. He ran out of partners, having made a splendid, nine-hour 161.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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