Lahore, Nov 19: Yousuf Youhana stroked a brilliant century as the first cricket Test between England and Pakistan ended in a draw at the Qadhafi Stadium here on Sunday.
Youhana resumed this morning at 77 in Pakistan's 333 for eight and departed after scoring a top class 124 as the home team were dismissed for 401 shortly after lunch.
England, who declared their first innings at 480 for eight and secured a 79-run lead, were 77 for four when the two captains decided to call off the match with 10.5 mandatory overs still to be bowled.
Saqlain Mushtaq, adjudged Man-of-the-Match, added the wicket of last innings' centurion and Surrey team-mate Graham Thorpe to finish with match figures of nine for 178. The award was further justified after the 23-year-old local boy had contributed a dogged unbeaten 32.
Pakistan might have succeeded to cause some more dent in the England confidence when twice on successive balls they came close to picking up the wicket of Alec Stewart who finished unbeaten on 27. But once the ball sped fast Saeed Anwar at short gully and the second time Salim Elahi failed to hold on to a sharp catch at silly point. The opportunities came in the last over before tea and the sufferer was Mushtaq Ahmad.
But snapping up England's four wickets for 77 runs would certainly give Pakistan the confidence to take another shot at the tourists `weak link' in the second Test which begins in Faisalabad from Nov 29.
Nonetheless, the draw proved to be a big morale and confidence booster for the Englishmen who were considered to be weak in facing the quality spinners. Contrary to the pundits' prediction that the match would last for three days, it went on for five and England dominated the play almost for four days.
England brought Pakistan on the brink of follow-on when they reduced them to 273 for eight. But it was a different story that despite having broken the back of top order, they couldn't overcome the resistance of Saqlain Mushtaq and Yousuf Youhana who featured in a 127-run stand in 228 minutes.
For Pakistan, it was a narrow escape but a good one. It displayed Pakistan's grit and guts to fight when the chips are down.
And the man who showed the way to his senior players was Yousuf Youhana who started on Sunday from where he had left the other evening.
He looked purposeful and on a mission. He stroked the ball well and showed a compact defence in blocking good deliveries. The highlights of his innings was the shot selection.
Nasser Hussain, the England captain, shuffled his bowlers and made quick changes to upset Youhana's concentration but failed.
His dismissal cannot be put to poor shot but a very good delivery from Ashley Giles which spun just across him and took the outside edge of his bat and into the gloves of Alec Stewart.
"The secret to his batting was his very good footwork and excellent timing," Pakistan coach Javed Miandad said, adding: "I have been working hard on him, Inzamam-ul-Haq and Shahid Afridi. I am delighted that all delivered the goods, and specially Yousuf."
Yousuf, who stroked his fourth career century and second on this ground, batted for 13 minutes over six hours and faced 308 balls. His innings spiced eight signature boundaries and a six.
Youhana's mental toughness, concentration and application can be judged from the fact that when he came out to bat, Pakistan were 199 for three which later became 273 for eight with the PIA batsman on 37. From then onwards, he took control of the innings and scored 86 runs in a 123-run stand with Saqlain Mushtaq.
Saqlain also showed that he was not a rabbit with the bat while remaining unbeaten on 32 and proving his reputation as a big partnership player. He was also involved in a record 313-run eighth wicket stand against Zimbabwe at Sheikhupura four years ago.
Saqlain frustrated the Englishmen for exactly four hours during which he received a 157 balls. He hit two fours.
England, despite being held by a spirited rearguard Pakistan action, will be delighted with the performance of Ashley Giles and Craig White, the two inexperienced bowlers who equally shared eight wickets between them.
Giles, playing in his second Test, altered his line brilliantly when he bowled from close to the wicket with his spinning line being middle and off. He also varied his pace and at times hit the deck hard in an effort to extract some abnormal bounce or spin.
White, the Yorkshireman, effectively and deceptively changed his pace. He also succeeded in making the ball reverse swing because he bowled faster than most of the pacers. The most impressive thing about White was that he made the batsmen play rather than wasting his energy in wayward deliveries.
The first Test has ended in an entertaining draw. But several lessons are to be learnt for both the teams. Let's see which of the two are more professional in picking lose threads quickly and effectively