Inzamam guides Pakistan to safety with his 13th Test century
Inzamam-ul-Haq's formidable presence dominated the third day of the National Bank series Test match against New Zealand at Jade Stadium today and probably ensured this Test will end in a draw.
Pakistan ended the third day on 341/6, 135 runs behind New Zealand, with Yousuf Youhana 73 not out and Saqlain Mushtaq 20 not out.
His 130 was a fine innings, and while it didn't have the rip, snort and bust to it that Mathew Sinclair managed during his double century on the first two days, it had enough power and purpose to rate as a fine effort.
His century came up off 200 balls in 265 minutes while his total innings time was 318 minutes and 241 balls, with 22 fours and one six. He shared two significant partnerships, the first of 132 runs for the third wicket with Faisal Iqbal who was out for 63, and 102 for the fourth wicket with Yousuf Youhana.
"I was extremely happy having been out of cricket recently with my injury.
"I realised I was the main batsman in the side and had to be responsible in my play.
"I wanted to stay there and carve an innings. It was a good wicket and I would have liked to have scored another double century. The pitch is good for run-making but you have to wait for the right ball," he said.
While he breathed a sigh of relief when dropped on the second evening by Nathan Astle when his score was 10, he said, "This is cricket, you get lives, you get runs."
It was the basis of his side getting past the follow-on mark, although that figure was only of passing interest as the injury suffered by New Zealand bowler Chris Drum would have made any invoking of the follow on a minor prospect.
Drum fell awkwardly while fielding a ball and landed on the point of his right shoulder and was forced to leave the field in obvious pain and it was learned he dislocated the a/c joint in his shoulder and will not bowl again in the match.
It was unfortunate for New Zealand that Drum's injury occurred when it did.
With New Zealand having to work so hard at containment during the first two sessions of the day, only 66 runs were scored in the morning session, New Zealand captain Stephen Fleming had kept Drum in reserve for a long workload in the final session once the new ball had been taken.
"His spell was coming after Daryl Tuffey with the new ball. He had quite a heavy workload coming and his injury is another handicap, and one we can do without," Fleming said.
"It was a very tough day for the bowlers. We had hoped for a couple of wickets in the morning session. But they only scored 66 runs.
"In the other sessions we picked up wickets but went for a higher amount of runs," he said.
To have any chance of trying to force a result in the game, New Zealand would have to knock the remaining wickets over in the morning session and then have a big enough lead to build on and then have enough time to try to bowl Pakistan out.
The main impediment to that prospect is Yousuf Youhana. He ended the day on 73 not out scored off 154 balls and including nine fours and two sixes.
He batted impressively and found an unlikely ally at the end of the day in Saqlain Mushtaq. Smiting at everything within reach, he scored 20 off 25 balls and had added 37 runs in the unbroken seventh wicket partnership.
Moin Khan missed the chance to score some significant runs when out for 28, caught in the deep from Grant Bradburn's bowling, the first wicket the off spinner has taken in international play since the summer of 1992/93. Runs had seemed effortless on a pitch still playing well and he was very disappointed when offering his chance.
But the final prospect for the game lies with Fleming's summation.
Unless there was heavy deterioration of the pitch over the six hours it would be in use tomorrow there was little prospect of the wicket contributing to the outcome.