Pakistan v India, 3rd Test, Karachi, 3rd day January 31, 2006

Iqbal's second coming

The Indians were subjected to further misery on the third day of the Karachi Test by a batsman who was returning to Test cricket after three years in the wilderness

After suffering yet again at the hands of Younis Khan and Mohammad Yousuf, the Indians were subjected to further misery on the third day of the Karachi Test by a batsman who was returning to Test cricket after three years in the wilderness. Faisal Iqbal had shown plenty of promise when he first came into the Pakistan side, starting off with 42, 52 not out and 63 in his first three Test innings, and then cracking a thoroughly impressive 83 and 39 in a low-scoring game against the Australians. Since then, he lost his way quite alarmingly, adding 80 in his next eight innings. (Click here for Iqbal's innings-by-innings stats.)

Coming back into the team due to Inzamam-ul-Haq's back injury, Iqbal ensured that Pakistan didn't lose out on any of the solidity that Inzamam usually provides. On a pitch getting increasingly easy for batting, Iqbal hardly gave the Indian bowlers a chance, managing an incredible in-control percentage of 94 - that is, he edged, mistimed or was beaten by only 12 out of 191 deliveries. He was fluent on both sides of the wicket, with the cover and midwicket regions fetching him the maximum runs.

Iqbal's 84-run partnership with Shahid Afridi for the fifth wicket also showed he possesses a fine temperament for Test cricket. Afridi did his usual thing, blasting the ball to all parts, but that didn't tempt Iqbal to change his game. He contributed just 22 to the stand despite facing 23 more deliveries than Afridi did, but throughout, he played his own game, and at the end of the day, he was standing tall with a knock that could make him a regular in the Pakistan Test squad.

S Rajesh is stats editor of Cricinfo