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Younis, Youhana in majestic form

AGGRESSION PERSONIFIED: Younis Khan penalised the Indian bowlers in the company of Yousuf Youhana (101 batting) on way to his seventh Test hundred. — Photo: S. Subramanium

AGGRESSION PERSONIFIED: Younis Khan penalised the Indian bowlers in the company of Yousuf Youhana (101 batting) on way to his seventh Test hundred. — Photo: S. Subramanium  

KOLKATA, MARCH 17. The demon of self-doubt is the biggest scourge of them all and Younis Khan conquered the beast at the Eden Gardens. The Pakistan vice-captain, who had appeared to be under a siege at Mohali, regained form with what could be a career-turning century.

And the man Younis replaced as Pakistan's vice-captain, Yousuf Youhana, under some criticism himself for not building on starts, not only stroked the ball with great confidence but also reached a sparkling century.

At close on day two of the second TVS Test here on Thursday, Pakistan, replying to India's 407, was on a strong 273 for two, with Younis (108) and Youhana (101) gathering an unbeaten 203 runs for the third wicket off only 315 balls.

The Indian innings lasted 91 minutes in the morning session, adding 63 runs to its overnight 344 for six. The home team could rue the missed opportunity for a 500-plus score.

Younis and Youhana took full toll whenever the bowlers erred. Younis' driving in the arc between point and cover was brilliant and he also essayed some whipped strokes off his legs. As his innings progressed, the Pakistani gained in confidence. His footwork was organised, he was well balanced meeting the ball, and found the gaps with ease.

Younis may have got to his seventh Test hundred, the first against India, with a streaky top-edged boundary off Irfan Pathan, but this was no more than an aberration in what was a quality effort. His radiant smile said it all.

Youhana's driving through the covers was majestic. He dictated terms to the bowlers, beginning with a glorious off-drive off Balaji, and flicking Pathan past square-leg.

He danced down to strike Harbhajan over his head, pulled Kumble and reached his 13th Test hundred, his second against India, by lofting Harbhajan to the mid-wicket fence. Fittingly, this was the last piece of action on the second day, reflecting the Pakistani dominance.

Brilliant running

The duo's often brilliant running between the wickets also disrupted the rhythm of the Indian attack. Younis (on 68) could have been dismissed when 'keeper Dinesh Kaarthick missed the stumps by a whisker from short square-leg.

Earlier, Balaji was unlucky when Rahul Dravid, at first slip, reprieved Taufeeq Umar (0). Soon, Sehwag grassed a low catch to his right at third slip with Umar on 1.

Umar, failing to keep a flick off Balaji down, was eventually caught smartly by Harbhajan Singh at short mid-wicket. Had Umar departed to either of the offerings, Younis, searching for form before the innings, would have walked in earlier and the complexion of the game could have been different. On such slender threads are some cricketing tales woven.

Afridi predictably lived dangerously during his 28, before miscuing a long-hop from Irfan Pathan into Sachin Tendulkar's hands at mid-on. The opener had provided the innings with some momentum at least.

There was more evidence of the pitch's dusty nature and batting could indeed be a hazardous proposition from the fourth day. The Indian bowling needs to pick itself up.

Pathan, still operating at reduced speeds but not with more control, consistently bowled short. By not pitching it up, he was also not giving the ball a chance to swing. Anil Kumble struggled with his line and Harbhajan Singh could not settle into a length.

It was also intriguing why Kumble went round the wicket to Younis and Youhana, particularly since the Indian is not a big spinner of the ball; the Pakistanis padded him with ease. The Indian ploy also indicated that the visitors were winning the mind game. The Indians will have to be careful with their appealing; Balaji has already been pulled up by match referee Chris Broad.

In the morning, Izamam, recovering from a bout of dehydration, was back leading the side. Pakistan's early breakthrough was the result of a smart piece of fielding when Mohammed Khalil scored a direct hit from point to the non-striker's end catching Kaarthick short of the crease.

Then a quicker delivery from Afridi darted in to disturb Balaji's stumps. Pathan pushed forward more in hope against leggie Danish Kaneria and was smartly held by Younis at silly point. The last-wicket stand between Harbhajan and Kumble, that produced 44 runs in 11.4 overs, and took the side past the 400-run mark. The valuable partnership ended when Razzaq won a marginal leg-before decision against Harbhajan with the second new ball.

Meanwhile, the BCCI Joint Secretary, Goutam Dasgupta, said Mohammad Kaif would replace Yuvraj Singh, who has been released to play for Punjab in the Ranji Trophy semifinal.

Scoreboard

INDIA — 1st innings:
V. Sehwag c Inzamam b Afridi 81
(114b, 11x4)
G. Gambhir lbw b Kaneria 29
(48b, 4x4)
R. Dravid c Akmal b Kaneria 110
(222b, 15x4, 1x6)
S. Tendulkar c Akmal b Afridi 52
(102b, 9x4)
S. Ganguly c Akmal b Razzaq 12
(14b, 3x4)
V.V.S. Laxman lbw b Razzaq 0
(1b)
D. Kaarthick (run out) 28
(52b, 4x4)
I. Pathan c Younis b Kaneria 8
(35b, 1x4)
L. Balaji b Afridi 3
(20b)
Harbhajan lbw b Razzaq 27
(39b, 4x4)
A. Kumble (not out) 21
(36b, 4x4)
Extras (b-2, lb-12, w-6, nb-16) 36
— —
Total (in 111.1 overs) 407
— —

Fall of wickets: 1-80 (Gambhir), 2-156 (Sehwag), 3-278 (Tendulkar), 4-298 (Ganguly), 5-298 (Laxman), 6-344 (Dravid), 7-345 (Kaarthick), 8-357 (Balaji), 9-363 (Pathan).

Pakistan bowling: Sami 22-3-76-0 (nb-8), Khalil 11-3-39-0 (nb-1, w-1), Kaneria 35-1-136-3 (nb-2), Razzaq 22.1-4-62-3 (nb-5), Afridi 21-0-80-3 (w-1).

PAKISTAN — 1st innings:
Taufeeq c Harbhajan b Balaji 18
(44b, 3x4)
S. Afridi c Tendulkar b Pathan 29
(21b, 7x4)
Younis Khan (batting) 108
(169b, 14x4)
Y. Youhana (batting) 101
(172b, 13x4)
Extras (b-1, lb-8, nb-8) 17
— —
Total (for two wkts. in 66 overs) 273
— —

Fall of wickets: 1-35 (Afridi), 2-70 (Taufeeq).

India bowling: Pathan 16-3-73-1 (nb-1), Balaji 13-1-55-1 (nb-2), Kumble 20-2-72-0 (nb-4), Ganguly 2-0-12-0 (nb-1), Harbhajan 15-1-52-0.

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