New Zealand 2009 December 14, 2009

Ridiculous to the sublime

 


Mohammad Yousuf has demonstrated that he is willing to apply himself to fight a rearguard, which has been the one chink in his formidable armour © Getty Images
 

Pakistan batted so differently in the two innings at Napier that it might have been a different team second time around. It was almost a different wicket, without any of the troubling pace and bounce of the first day, a Pakistani wicket in fact. Indeed, the blind panic that inflicted Pakistan's batsmen on the opening day has been banished by a determined effort that helped reconnect them with the disciplines of Test cricket.

Where Imran Farhat and co flashed and thrashed, they now defended and left well alone. If anything, Pakistan have been too cautious in their second innings to put themselves in a strong position to win this match. The new risk reduction method was applied with almost tyrannical zeal by Mohammad Yousuf as he repeatedly gave Umar Akmal "the eyes" whenever the new champion became overambitious.

For a while Umar nodded and played in submission, but a running mix-up soon put paid to that as the old pro and young pup had an impassioned exchange. It is impressive that Umar has such conviction for a teenager, even though his backing up technique is straight from school 3rd XI cricket. After letting off some steam, Umar decided to occasionally free his arms again.

Surprisingly, Yousuf was the next to go when you might have fully expected Umar's frustration to get the better of him. But despite failing to secure a century, Yousuf has demonstrated that he is willing to apply himself to fight a rearguard, which has been the one chink in his formidable armour. The captaincy has strange effects on people, and this outcome has been an important benefit of Yousuf's leadership.

Overall, Pakistan's much criticised batsmen can be pleased with their application in the second innings here. The Test and the series, however, remain in the balance and the next session will be crucial. Pakistan will need a lead approaching 250 to secure a draw, a sublime result after the ridiculous first-innings debacle.

Follow me on Twitter during the first session: http://twitter.com/KamranAbbasi

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

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