New Zealand 2009 December 11, 2009

The Farhat contradiction

Imran Farhat may have entered the record books: was this the luckiest innings in the history of Test cricket?

Imran Farhat's survival was a miracle, his century unbelievable © AFP

On the face of it Imran Farhat joined a select band of openers who have carried their bat through an innings. On the face of it his lion hearted effort rescued Pakistan from calamity on a track that had pace, some bounce, but little else. It was a good toss to win. On the face of it Farhat has just solved one half of Pakistan's problem at the top of the order.

But numbers and scorecards are misleading. Just as the statistic that Danish Kaneria has risen above Abdul Qadir in Pakistan's order of Test merit says nothing about the relative qualities of the bowlers - Qadir for my money was world class, Kaneria is just worthy of an international cap - so today's scorecard tells us nothing about the true nature of Farhat's innings.

In an innings of panic, Farhat was the most panic stricken. In a desert of technique, Farhat was often the driest, except when leathering his trademark knee-on-the-ground drive to the off-side boundary. One particular stroke - as he charged and thrashed a good length ball to oblivion, in his mind sending it sailing over the long on boundary but in reality skying it over the slips - defined the ineptitude of Pakistan's display, and may become a contender for the stroke most unworthy of a Test opener.

Somehow, Farhat got away with it. His innings was compulsive viewing for its recklessness. But Farhat was not alone. The 'cream' of Pakistani batsmen swished and misjudged their way to disaster. Only Misbah in the top order got a good ball. Yes the track was pacy and had some bounce, but nothing more. In the last three decades of Pakistan cricket, this was one of the most inept morning sessions ever played by the nation's batsmen. That's how bad it was.

After lunch, with his top order colleagues out of their minds and out of luck, Farhat continued his mad thrash. His survival was a miracle. His century unbelievable. It was so unfathomable that Mohammad Yousuf could be right that a higher authority will dictate the result of this match. For a team that deserved to be out for under 75, Pakistan once more confounded all expectations by scaling two hundred.

Amidst all this, Farhat, Pakistan's unlikely hero, stood squat at the crease, a crouching, striking, fluking contradiction. He may have also entered the record books: Was this the luckiest innings in the history of Test cricket?

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Kamran Abbasi is an editor, writer and broadcaster. He tweets here