Pakistan v South Africa, 1st Test, Dubai, 5th day November 16, 2010

Younis and Misbah return in style

ESPNcricinfo staff

Younis Khan reminded Pakistan just what they had been missing as his 17th Test hundred guided them to safety on the final day in Dubai. Together with another returnee, the new captain Misbah-ul-Haq, the pair combined to defy South Africa for 57 overs, sharing an unbroken stand of 186 to pull off a result which looked unlikely after Pakistan conceded a 132 first-innings deficit.

Shorn of Younis' services since July last year, the brittle Pakistan line-up have struggled against Australia and England but his resilience alongside Misbah, playing his first Test since the Sydney debacle, ensured a satisfying return. Younis will rightly take the plaudits, anchoring the rearguard with third hundred against South Africa but, as Misbah himself acknowledged, it was the he who was under most scrutiny.

"This feels like a win. The team put in a wonderful effort under pressure," he said. "I was under quite a bit of pressure before this Test but I think my performance today will make it easier for me."

Pakistan's first-innings collapse from 176 for 2 to 248 all out underlines just how important Misbah's contribution was, all the more so given that the next man in was Umar Akmal. It ensured that the "fresh start" Misbah promised on the eve of the game ended well and he singled out praise for his partner. "On the second day the bowlers brought us back into the game the plan today was to be positive and not just try to stick it out. Younis' knock today was a special one."

Returning as the senior batsman in a volatile side, Younis could have been forgiven for feeling the burden of responsibility. Yet after a cautious start his increasingly expansive and certain strokeplay betrayed a man just relieved to be back where he belongs.

"There wasn't any pressure on us because the wicket here is different to those in the subcontinent," he said. "It didn't have the kind of uneven bounce that causes the ball to bounce up off the pads. On this wicket it was possible to bat positively and that's what I was trying to do. I was trying to hit the bad balls for boundaries."

Both batsmen, impressive as they were, had some generous South African fielding to thank. Younis was put down twice, on 16 by Mark Boucher and again by Jacques Kallis when on 70, and Misbah got a slice of luck when Hashim Amla spilled a chance at short leg just before lunch.

It meant another final-innings disappointment for South Africa after twice being denied by England last year but on a flat track Graeme Smith was happy enough with his side's performance.

"We knew it was going to be hard because on this wicket once the batsmen get in it was tough to get them out," he said. "The wicket got slower and slower as the Test went on. Credit must go to Pakistan, especially to Younis, he played really well.

"Missed chances are always costly but nobody does it on purpose. It was unusual for those guys to miss those chances because they have been stalwarts of the team for a long time. So obviously they are disappointed with that. But we've played good positive cricket throughout the game and we'll take that into Abu Dhabi."

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on November 21, 2010, 4:56 GMT

    Mr. snowSnake ,It was achieveable total, in the past, pakistani team has achieved target of 164 runs in karachi test against india by loosing only 2 wickets in last session of 5th and final day.

  • Irfan on November 19, 2010, 21:43 GMT

    It is great to see a great player come back to his own and we should expect good things from him. However, we may be going on a familiar path here we've seen too often. He is still the only choice for the Test (and ODI) captain... don't really care much about T20 (Afridi can stay with that). But let's not get too carried away. We all praised him like anything when he made the double against India and triple against Sri Lanka, but we are the same people who threw so much rubbish at him later on (ICC trophy). I really hope now that he doesn't take captaincy as we will not hesitate to bring him down on the first mistake he makes or doesn't perform. So let's give him time, he may or may not perform well in the 2nd test. But what we all know as a fact is that he is probably one of the only lions left in the team who is smart cricketer and not mustered with scandals. He will need our support to rebuild this broken team…. People who understand Test know the brilliance he showed in this game

  • Sibhi on November 19, 2010, 15:01 GMT

    Finally!!,Younis Shuts Ijaz Butt(hope his good form continues).Its Seriously a Pain to see Ppl write bad abt them(Dravid,younis).Its been a wild month for me,all my Favorites have played good cricket.And Please Spare a thought,100 in 14 overs on a Fifth Day Wicket is hard.Critics can say what they want,But You jus Try and Stand there on Fifth Day pitches,U will Understand it.its very hard for the new batsmen to face on a 5th day track.Even if SA or Ind tried it(108 with 14),they would have failed relentlessly.Well they both have better batting depth,But still its one heck of a task.Well Paks are prone to collapse,I'm sure both Misbah and younis had tht thought.If tats the case,well thought out by them.Inspite of that Teasing Target,they Did what a Good Team would do(Know their resources n settle for a draw).Its way better than Trying to win and Collapse to Lose it,while a Draw is still in the bag.Well Played Pakistan.All the best for the Series.

  • Nadeem on November 19, 2010, 5:52 GMT

    Better than Bangladesh. Pakistan as great cricketing nation knows that in difficult and bad situation the best way is to play for draw. Its a wonderfull performance by new captain and young team against experienced SA team. I dont know when Bangladesh will start learning this technique of drawing test matches. Bangladesh always try to win it and in the end always lose it. They need to understand for a low nation Draw is as equal to win. ICC should promote this message to Bangldesh that play test cricket for long hard five days and try to save match first and then if possible try to win. Inclusion of bangladesh in Test arena is a failure. They dont have approach and system to play test cricket. Let them play ODI and remove them from test. Create elite 8 test nation teams and let them play.

  • Dummy4 on November 19, 2010, 5:11 GMT

    @hiran lakmal i really apreciate your good thoughts for pakistan i think we have kind of self distracted ourself but if we play with a spirit and use bit of brains we can achieve good results

  • Dummy4 on November 19, 2010, 0:18 GMT

    nice job by the pakistani team i think should take out umar akmal and bring in asad shafiq i thought that they should have won the match but it is not a t20 its a test so its a better decision to draw it.

  • shalal on November 18, 2010, 22:30 GMT

    This was a great performance though to be frank , nowadays when Pakistan make above 250 it seems like a victory to me!This still remains a weak batting side and without Amir and Asif an even weaker bowling side.To win you need to get 20 wickets and i cant see that happening against most teams leave alone SA. There are positives though. Azhar Ali was very promising; Hafeez looked the part and the batting looked a bit less brittle than it has for a while. Room for further improvement? Without doubt. Get rid of Umar Akmal(for a very long time) and get Asad Shafiq in.

  • naveed on November 18, 2010, 22:20 GMT

    I think Pakistan team played well but they did not choose to win the match and went for easiest option ,that have shown the lack of confidence of the team captain on his squad . It gave a chance to SA team to fight back and win the series .

  • P on November 18, 2010, 22:17 GMT

    Guys, stop blaming the Pak. batsmen. 108 runs in 14 overs cannot be done. This is not ODI or T20 where you have power plays and fielding restrictions. If Pak. would have tried it then losing would also have become an option because there are no bowling restrictions in test cricket. Stop treating ODI, T20 and tests as same games.

  • Dummy4 on November 18, 2010, 20:33 GMT

    What a player, what sportsman spirit.

    Slap on Ijaz Butts face who kept him out of the team without any reason.

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