Pakistan v India, 3rd Test, Karachi, 1st day January 29, 2006

Akmal weathers the swing

After feasting on two placid pitches, the Pakistani batsmen were found wanting in footwork and caution but Akmal rose to the occasion with a superbly controlled yet aggressive innings

The Pakistani batsmen had made best use of winning the toss at Lahore and Faisalabad, and the Indian bowlers did the same when Rahul Dravid chose to bowl on a grassy surface at Karachi. Irfan Pathan was in his element - the ball swung prodigiously in the first hour - and his first-over hat-trick triggered a collapse that ended with Pakistan on 39 for 6. But once the sun was out and the shine gone, batting became progressively easier and Kamran Akmal blazed away to a superb century.

After feasting on two placid pitches, the Pakistani batsmen were found wanting in footwork and caution but Akmal rose to the occasion with a superbly controlled yet aggressive innings. His not-in-control factor for the first session was at 16 % and as the pitch eased up it the second session, that stat dropped to just 8 %. Under ideal conditions for swing in the morning session, 57 % of the balls bowled by Pathan, Zaheer Khan and Rudra Pratap Singh were pitched up on a good length and the runs scored off them came at just 1.19 per over. But once the degree of swing lessened, the runs off balls bowled in that same area came at almost five per over. Akmal's wagon-wheel is a good indicator that the bowlers were perhaps guilty of bowling full and wide even when the ball wasn't swinging that much. Fifty of his 113 runs, including nine fours, came in the cover region as he drove with ease during the afternoon session.

George Binoy is editorial assistant of Cricinfo