Pakistan v West Indies, 2nd Test, Multan, 4th day November 22, 2006

Farhat leads Pakistan's fightback

Pakistan 357 and 213 for 2 (Farhat 70*, Yousuf 56*, Younis 56) trail West Indies 591 (Lara 216, Gayle 93, Bravo 89, Ganga 82, Kaneria 5-181) by 21 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
West Indies how they were out
Pakistan how they were out

Imran Farhat produced his second half-century of the match to lead Pakistan's comeback © AFP

Just when it appeared as if West Indies had assumed a vice-like grip on Multan Test, Pakistan hit back through an assertive batting performance, leaving a draw the most likely result. Led by Lara's cracking double-century, West Indies managed an imposing first-innings lead but the flat nature of the surface, and lack of a quality spinner, thwarted their bid to force home the advantage.

Facing a 234-run deficit, Pakistan chose to smash their way out of trouble with three of their top-order batsmen easing to half-centuries. Imran Farhat's stylish 70 not out was buttressed with aggressive, yet contrasting, half-centuries from the two Ys - Younis Khan and Mohammad Yousuf - and it would require a sensational collapse for either team to force a result from here on.

Farhat's was an innings of two halves. The first 64 deliveries he faced produced just 15 runs and, uncharacteristically, not a single boundary. He endured a few jitters - swishing at the air with his customary wafts outside off, uncertain about whether to play or leave - and often preferred the edge of the bat rather than the middle. The eye-catching part of the innings followed, with spanking cover-drives pinging the advertising hoardings. His innings should have ended on 44 but Shivnarine Chanderpaul, despite a fine attempt, couldn't latch on to a smoked cover-drive. Once let off, there was no stopping him; the extravagant flourish at the end of each drive made them that much more elegant.

He was probably helped early on by Younis's urgency. The duo came together at the fall of the first wicket - Mohammad Hafeez couldn't keep out a speedy incutter from Jerome Taylor, in a post-lunch spell where he incessantly targeted the stumps. Younis telegraphed his intentions the moment he entered, scampering a single off his first ball, attempting an ambitious pull off his second, and flicking to midwicket off his fourth. He didn't hold back against the wide ones, cutting fiercely to the point boundary; with one such shot he became the tenth Pakistani batsman to cross 4000 Test runs.

Aggressive fields helped - West Indies had no other option but to put fielders around the bat and hope for an edge - and the belter of a surface provided a perfect stage.

Yousuf, the other half-centurion, managed the most fluent innings of the day. On his way to becoming the highest scorer in a calendar year, he simply carried on in his magnificent form, easing effortlessly into drives. He was lucky on 51, not offering a stroke and being rapped on the pads, but Daryl Harper, somewhat inexplicably, preferred to give him the benefit of the doubt. That moment of uncertainty over, he continued his torment.

Pakistan's bowlers found some joy as well, once Brian Lara had brought up his ninth Test double-century. He needed to be cautious early on in the day to counter the dangerous reverse-swing that Umar Gul and Shahid Nazir were generating. He brought up his double-century with a pushed three through cover-point and continued to bide his time against accurate bowling.

On 216, though, when he was just one run short of the highest score by a West Indian batsman in Pakistan (Rohan Kanhai's 217 at Lahore in 1958-59) he was tempted into a false stroke, inducing a leading edge off Kaneria to long-on. Kaneria went on to earn a pyrrhic victory, finishing with 5 for 181 while Abdul Razzaq, who was also taken apart yesterday, cleaned up the last two wickets.

Siddhartha Vaidyanathan is staff writer of Cricinfo