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At Multan, November 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 2006. Drawn. Toss: Pakistan.
West Indies bounced back with a robust performance: an awesome 216 from Lara, and a fine display from fast bowler Taylor, gave them a sniff of a series-levelling victory. But once again dropped catches cost them dear, and Mohammad Yousuf produced another epic to pilot Pakistan to a comfortable draw.
Lara's memorable innings contained a century before lunch on the third day, off only 77 balls. It was fuelled by an unforgettable assault on Danish Kaneria, who was struck for 60 off the first 29 deliveries he sent down to Lara, although he did have the belated consolation of his wicket on the way to an expensive five-for. "I don't think getting hit by the world's No. 1 batsman is a failure on my part," he said. The other batsmen - lacking vice-captain Sarwan who had been dropped (and advised by Lara to "reflect and come back strong") - gave Lara good support for once. The openers laid the foundations with a stand of 162, then Bravo helped his captain put on 200. West Indies led by 234, but still they could not convert that into victory.
Before Lara's masterclass, Pakistan had been restricted to 357 in spite of meaningful contributions from all their top six. Mohammad Hafeez and Imran Farhat started with a partnership of 83, but no one managed to exceed Farhat's 74. Gayle claimed the key scalp of Mohammad Yousuf just before the first-day close, and West Indies sliced through the rest on the resumption, on the back of Taylor's pace and a long, testing spell from Collymore. A classic outswinger from Taylor to dismiss Inzamam was the defining moment, while Bravo played his part with a magnificent left-handed grab at third slip to end Shoaib Malik's charmed life.
Gayle and Ganga slowly, but steadfastly, added 151 before the close, before both fell prodding defensively at Kaneria early on the third day. This brought in Lara, for his epic assault.
His fifty arrived off 48 balls during an over from Abdul Razzaq that cost 14. The brutal assault on Kaneria came soon after, Lara's nimble footwork taking him down the pitch and setting up a sequence of 406664 from authentic strokes down the ground. "Just before, he was actually tossing up the ball with mid-off and mid-on up, maybe tempting me," said Lara. "I thought if I do get my rhythm right, I am going to go on the attack." He said it was simple, really: "It's just judging the spin and the degree or amount of flight he was giving the ball, and getting to the pitch of it."
With level-headed support from Bravo, Lara completed his ninth Test double-century - more than anyone except Don Bradman (12) - early on the fourth day. After just over seven hours and 262 balls, he finally holed out. His 19th score of 150 or more, surpassing Bradman's record of 18, was adorned with 22 fours and seven sixes. Pakistan, faced with a fraction over five sessions to save the match, endured a number of anxious moments, but a combination of Yousuf's broad bat, three supporting halfcenturies and yet more faulty catching - six chances went down in all - saw them comfortably reach safety in the end. Yousuf, let off at 108, hit 22 fours before falling in the 190s for a record third time (all in 2006) with the match already safe. Eleven other batsmen have achieved this bittersweet feat twice: three of them, Mohammad Azharuddin, Ian Chappell and (so far) Michael Vaughan, without ever going on to 200.
Man of the Match: Mohammad Yousuf.