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younis played a wonderful inning and took pakistan to safe place

Younis-KhanYounis Khan defied South Africa to guide Pakistan safely to a draw in the first Test at Dubai, cracking an unbeaten 130 – his 17th Test hundred and his third fourth innings century in his last three Tests against the South Africans. Pakistan’s top order resisted everything the South Africans could hurl at them and, befitting the occasion on the first day of Eid, passed a number of records in a feast of runscoring.

Younis was ably assisted by Azhar Ali, who contributed a brave 63, and captain Misbah-ul-Haq, with whom he added an unbeaten 186 for the fourth wicket – Pakistan’s highest partnership in Tests against South Africa. The match was called off shortly after entering the final hour of the day as Pakistan reached 343 for 3, their highest fourth innings total in Tests.

South Africa were left ruing three clear chances that went down as Younis was dropped by Mark Boucher on 16 and Jacques Kallis when he had reached 70, while Hashim Amla couldn’t quite cling on to a tough chance off Misbah at short leg minutes before lunch. Younis, who had experience of just this sort of situation having scored fourth-innings hundreds against South Africa at Lahore and Karachi in 2007, took full toll as he and Azhar took the honours in the first hour this morning, compiling an 82-run partnership, though not without some luck.

Younis had started tentatively, fencing outside off stump and getting a thin edge to a Steyn outswinger that dropped short of Boucher in the second over of the day. In Steyn’s next over he slashed wildly outside off stump to send a chance flying to the right of a diving Boucher, but the ball spilled out of the wicketkeeper’s gloves as he hit the ground. With a panicked Younis stranded mid-pitch, a shy at the stumps went wide to give him yet another life.

At other end, Azhar was still visibly battling with the effects of the blow to the hand he received on the fourth afternoon but quickly settled into a defensive groove, and as the batsmen eased to Pakistan’s highest third-wicket partnership of 2010 – beating the 65 this same pair put on in the first innings – Smith turned Johan Botha’s offspin and Jacques Kallis’s reliable seamers.

While Botha kept things tight, finding a reasonable amount of turn and variable bounce, Kallis tested Azhar’s mettle with a series of short-pitched deliveries with fielders circling close in at midwicket, cover and short leg. The first thumped painfully off his hand and into his ribs, but Azhar quickly waved the medical staff off the field and counter-attacked in fine style, thumping the next ball – another bouncer – to the midwicket boundary.

The partnership had reached 80, Azhar reaching a third Test half-century, when Paul Harris joined the attack with almost immediate results. Coming round the wicket, he spun the final ball of his first over of the day past the outer half of Azhar’s bat and onto the off stump. South Africa celebrated the dismissal with due enthusiasm, and Misbah entered a testing cauldron as the spinners operated in tandem with men all around the bat and the appearance of renewed life in the pitch.

Botha created another chance as, just before lunch, the ball exploded out of the rough and bounced off Misbah’s glove towards Amla under the helmet at short leg. Misbah was out in identical circumstances in the first innnings, but Amla couldn’t quite grasp onto the chance today, the ball bobbling out of his hands as his shoulder hit the turf.

Younis, a bundle of fidgety energy first thing this morning, burst into life after the interval. With no forewarning, he leapt down the wicket to smite a floated offspinner from Botha high over long-on and followed that up with a powerful sweep to long leg. Steyn returned with the old ball and was immediately slapped for two smouldering fours, through mid-off and deep cover. That prompted Smith to take the new ball – already overdue – and an eventful over was completed when Younis thrust his bat out at a ball he might have left and a thick edge burst through Kallis’s hands at third slip to leave the fast bowler absolutely livid.

It appeared a fourth chance had been pouched when a delivery from Morkel ricocheted off Younis’s pad and Amla plucked it out of the air at short leg, but Asoka de Silva decided there had been no inside edge and was vindicated by replays. Younis retaliated by scorching an imperious drive on the up through cover, and as the heat of the afternoon began to take its toll tempers frayed on both sides.

Morkel opted for a bruising, round-the-wicket line of attack once again and after a series of bouncers engaged in some heated banter with Younis. Both Misbah and Umpire Daryl Harper stepped in to appeal for calm, Harper warning Morkel for running on the pitch, and amid an eventful spell Misbah survived an enthusiastic appeal for lbw off the same bowler. After Younis flowed past his hundred with 12 runs in a single Botha over, Misbah brought up his own fifty with a mighty slog-sweep over deep midwicket just before tea, and suddenly it appeared that Pakistan might have a world-record chase in mind.

It soon became clear that a draw would be regarded as a victory in itself, however, as both Younis and Misbah settled into stubborn defence. With the match meandering towards a draw, Younis helped himself to two more sixes off Botha before both captains decided to call the game off minutes into the final hour

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