Farhat's century puts Pakistan on top
Close Pakistan 237 for 2 (Taufeeq Umar 68, Imran Farhat 123*) trail South Africa 278 (Gibbs 98, Kirsten 54, Shabbir 4-74) by 41 runs
Imran Farhat: displayed great shot-selection in an innings of character
A feisty 124 not out by Imran Farhat helped Pakistan to a position of strength against South Africa in the second Test at Faisalabad. At the close of the second day, Pakistan were 237 for 2, just 41 behind with eight wickets in hand. South Africa, after their last-wicket pair had taken the score to 278 in the morning, had an absolutely awful day.
To begin with, the South African bowlers toiled for more than three hours before they could get the first breakthrough. It wasn't all their fault: Shaun Pollock, Makhaya Ntini, Jacques Kallis and Paul Adams all bowled good spells, but Farhat and Taufeeq Umar were in especially determined mood, and applied themselves superbly to the task at hand. They had added 109 and 134 in the two innings of the first Test; they did better here, with a partnership of 137.
Both began circumspectly, but once they settled down they opened out in their own distinctive styles, taking full toll of all the loose bowling that came their way. Taufeeq was nimble-footed and technically correct, and cut and drove with classical grace. Farhat was relatively leaden-footed to start with, and relied more on his hand-eye co-ordination for the big strokes. He flashed at a couple of wide ones early in the innings, but settled down to display fine shot-selection, a quality that a batsman with his limited footwork needs to develop.
At one point, it seemed that Taufeeq and Farhat had decided to play out the faster bowlers and punish the spinners. Robin Peterson had a bad over before lunch when Farhat thrashed him for ten runs, and was smashed down the ground for a straight six by Taufeeq a couple of overs after that. Graeme Smith was also tonked around by both batsmen after lunch, going for 16 in a spell of three overs. But the two left-handers were just playing the bowling on its merits, and appeared quite content after that to bat through the day.
Until Taufeeq ran out of patience, that is. He tried to pull a short ball from Adams which was very wide of off stump, and only succeeded in dragging it across to Herschelle Gibbs at midwicket (137 for 1). Taufeeq was out for 68, in a soft dismissal that went against the run of play.
Yasir Hameed did not display the kind of patience that the openers had shown, and was out for 21, guiding Pollock to Gibbs at gully, shortly after slashing and edging another Pollock delivery just past a diving second slip (178 for 2). Pollock was fired up, and almost snared Inzamam-ul-Haq as well, inducing an edge that Kallis, at slip, could not hold on to. Inzamam made no further mistakes after that.
Makhaya Ntini: was a bit of a nuisance early in the morning © AFP
Farhat almost did, flashing at a ball outside off when he was on 98, and being lucky not to get out. He had entered the nineties with an imperious pull off Ntini, but not surprisingly became a wee bit jittery as his maiden Test hundred approached. Once he had reached it, though, with a glance to fine leg, he opened up a little, cover-driving Adams and pulling Kallis for four. As the close of play approached, Inzamam and Farhat went back into their shells, and saved themselves for another day.
Earlier in the morning, Adams and Ntini, who added 28 runs for the last wicket, saw off early spells from Abdul Razzaq and Shabbir Ahmed. But Danish Kaneria struck as soon as he was brought into the attack. Adams tried to cut a short legbreak outside off and only succeeded in edging it to first slip, where Taufeeq balanced himself to take a good sharp catch, his fourth of the innings. South Africa were five balls short of facing 100 overs.
The way Pakistan were placed at the end of the day, it seemed unlikely that they would have similar problems.