Inzamam makes Bangalore history

Under a sultry sky at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium at Bangalore, Pakistan transformed a double early morning setback into glorious late afternoon success as Younis Khan and Inzamam-ul-Haq added the largest partnership ever accumulated by a visiting team on Indian soil.

Winning the toss on a sedate track, Inzamam had barely stored the memento commemorating his hundredth Test cap safely away in the changing rooms, when he was called to the crease following a pair of failures from his latest opening partnership.

Following a straight drive to the boundary from the recalled Yasir Hameed, Shahid Afridi lasted no more than one delivery as he fended airily off Lakshmipathy Balaji, directing the seamer’s first delivery of the day straight into the safe hands of Rahul Dravid at first slip.

Bad became worse in the next over as Irfan Pathan broke through, an over-ambitious cover drive from Hameed flashed off the outside edge and into Dinesh Karthik’s gloves. From 7-2, however, India’s momentum came to an abrupt halt.

Inzamam, finally venturing upwards to the number four slot following media suggestions that he needed to take more responsibility for his team’s batting, joined Younis Khan – and led his side to safety and beyond.

Despite the seamers’ early control, as the new ball faded, the Indians’ performances followed. Neither Balaji nor Pathan were able to elicit a further wicket, with Harbhajan Singh and home favourite Anil Kumble equally impotent as all the Indian bowlers were milked at between three and four runs per over for the remainder of the day as neither the evening introduction of Sachin Tendulkar nor the new ball impeded Pakistan’s progress.

Neither Younis nor Inzamam were unduly troubled by the home attack as first the captain, then his deputy, brought up their centuries with the skipper leading by example. Come stumps, a round hundred of his runs had been accumulated in sweetly timed boundaries – driven, pulled and cut to precision – rounding off the day slapping Balaji to the cover boundary as the seamer erred in line and length once more.

Khan was more restrained than his senior partner, striking just twelve fours but adding a towering six off Harbhajan as he reached the close of play unbowed on 127, shy of Inzamam but nonetheless equally crucial as Pakistan bid to amass an insurmountable first-innings total – and tie the series.

With his 184*, Inzamam became only the fifth batsman to make a century in his 100th Test, following Colin Cowdrey, Gordon Greenidge, Javed Miandad and Alec Stewart – and also the owner of both the Bangalore stadium record and the highest scorer amongst the five centurion centurions. Now, if someone were to do that at SuperSport Park one day…

Pakistan 323-2
Inzamam-ul-Haq 184*, Younis Khan 127*
Irfan Pathan 1-67, Lakshmipathy Balaji 1-74

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