Farhat and Inzamam frustrate India
Close Pakistan 355 for 3 (Farhat 101, Inzamam 118*, Youhana 62*) lead India 287 by 68 runs
Patiently compiled centuries from Imran Farhat and Inzamam-ul-Haq gave Pakistan the upper hand on the second day of the second Test against India at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore. At stumps, they were 355 for 3, a lead of 68, ideally placed to make a serious bid for a series-equalling victory.
India fought tigerishly in the final session, and spirits didn't flag, even when they were at the receiving end of three or four poor umpiring decisions. But they ended the day with only two wickets to show for their efforts, on a pitch that had settled down to be a real batting beauty.
Inzamam had arrived at the crease during the morning break for drinks, after Yasir Hameed (19) had wafted at a wide delivery from Ajit Agarkar to give Rahul Dravid catching practice at second slip (95 for 2). He got into his stride with two imperious strokes for four off Agarkar, a cut and a square-drive.
At the other end, Farhat - playing only his 10th Test - fluctuated between playing some fine strokes and ugly heaves against the line, one of which flew off the top edge to Agarkar at fine leg. He made a mess of it, allowing Farhat his 50.
India were made to repent for such lapses after lunch. A flurry of strokes from Farhat and Inzamam put paid to their containment plans, with Anil Kumble coming in for special punishment. Inzamam cut and swept him with ease, while Farhat played two magnificent off-drives off his bowling. When they weren't hitting boundaries, the duo pushed the ball into the gaps and ran hard, as runs came at four an over.
Farhat survived a vociferous appeal for a catch behind the stumps from Lakshmipathy Balaji when he was on 99, and was a relieved man when a single to midwicket got him to three figures. But his good fortune ran out soon after when he nicked one through to Parthiv Patel, giving Balaji his second wicket of the innings (205 for 3).
That was as good as it got for India. Youhana came in, and started his innings with considerable panache, driving with aplomb through midwicket, and striking two glorious square-drives off Agarkar as he raced into the 30s. But the complexion of the match changed once India took the new ball just before tea.
Both Irfan Pathan, the pick of the bowlers yet again, and Balaji bowled probing spells, while Ajit Agarkar veered between testing the batsmen and giving them free hits. But there was controversy too as Steve Bucknor - who isn't a fixture on Indian Chritsmas-card lists - turned down two confident leg-before appeals from Pathan, one against each batsman.
Worse was to follow. Youhana, on 38, got a thick outside edge through to Patel off Kumble's bowling, but Simon Taufel was unmoved by a crescendo of appeals. Minutes later, Bucknor stayed immobile as Balaji and those behind the stumps went up in unison as the ball whizzed past the outer edge of Inzamam's bat.
Inzamam was on 88 then, and shortly afterwards, he swept Kumble to the fine-leg fence to bring up his first hundred against India. He rubbed it in with a glorious cover-drive in the same over. And just for good measure, he bashed a Kumble delivery straight back at him - the ball hit with such force that it went to the fence at long-off via Kumble's outstretched fingertips.
In the final minutes of the day's play, Kumble had two other huge appeals for leg before against Inzamam turned down by Bucknor, and his frustration - Inzamam had to be calmed down after Kumble nearly brained him with an unnecessary throw back to the keeper - summed up India's plight, as Pakistan finished the day having laid the platform for a formidable first-innings score. After the ignominious defeat in Multan, Inzamam's team needed him to come up with something special. On another hot day, in front of a small smattering of fans, he did just that.
Dileep Premachandran is assistant editor of Wisden Cricinfo.