Batting Practice in Lahore

Half-centuries from Indians Yuvraj Singh and VVS Laxman, and a response in kind from Pakistan A’s Hasan Raza and Imran Farhat, who progressed to three figures, were the high points of another bat-dominated day?s play at the picturesque Bagh-e-Jinnah ground in Lahore.

With five days remaining before the First Test in the Gaddafi Stadium, the two Indian middle order batsman took their opportunity to garner further batting practice on a placid wicket. Both men struck nine fours in their half-centuries, before retiring to allow the lower order batting time in the middle.

Mahendra Dhoni was the only wicket to fall before the Indian declaration came, caught off Mohammad Irshad for a run-a-ball 22, before Ajit Agarkar and Irfan Pathan shepherded the total onto 414 for seven.

In response, the home ‘A’ side lost two early wickets to the fast-medium pairing, as Bazid Khan and Mohammad Wasim each fell for single-figure totals – critically harming their chances of capturing the second opener’s berth in the national side. Bazid was caught by Laxman off Agarkar, before Wasim followed leg-before to Pathan.

However, Imran Farhat, the other candidate for Shoaib Malik’s opening slot in the Test team, did not pass up his opportunity to impress. Alongside captain Hasan Raza, another man battling for his Test place, the Pakistanis added 160 in 28 overs before Raza was caught behind off Pathan for a 62-ball 75 that included eleven fours and a six.

Farhat continued to a hundred that included sixteen boundaries and a maximum, before being caught by Zaheer Khan off Harbhajan Singh. The off-spinner, alongside Agarkar, was the only touring bowler to keep the home side below 3.5 runs per over, as Pathan, Zaheer and Rudra Pratap Singh each leaked nearly five and upwards.

Asim Kamal and Faisal Iqbal, contenders for a middle order place at the Gaddafi, saw their side through to stumps at 212 for four, over half of the visitors’ score. With one more day to play, the smart money’s on a draw – but with the added intrigue of an evening session’s battle between Gautam Gambhir and Wasim Jaffer for the right to partner Virender Sehwag at the top of the Indian order.

India 414/7
Sachin Tendulkar 74, Rahul Dravid 63
Mohammad Irshad 2/79, Imran Farhat 1/36

Pakistan 212/4
Imran Farhat 107, Hasan Raza 75
Irfan Pathan 2/61, Ajit Agarkar 1/28

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