Misbah, Akmal lead Pakistan fightback

Misbah-ul-Haq and Kamran Akmal scored battling hundreds to steer Pakistan to 358-6 against India on the third day of the second Test on Sunday.

In-form Misbah, who struck 108 not out, and keeper-batsman Akmal, with 119, shared in a 207-run sixth-wicket stand after the visitors had lost four wickets in the morning session at Eden Gardens.

Harbhajan Singh dismissed opener Salman Butt (42) and Mohammad Yousuf (6) in successive overs to leave Pakistan struggling initially in their reply to the hosts’ imposing first-innings total of 616-5 declared.

But Misbah scored his maiden century in his ninth Test and Akmal his fifth in his 37th to deny India further success until after 62 overs and help carry their team to 59 runs short of avoiding the follow-on.

Akmal was bowled by an off-break by Harbhajan for the bowler’s third wicket after a remarkable innings.

The visitors had resumed on 50-1 after a double century by Wasim Jaffer and hundreds by Saurav Ganguly and Vangipurappu Laxman put India in a commanding position.

Harbhajan, operating with four men in catching positions, induced Butt to edge to Rahul Dravid at first slip and then bowled Yousuf through the gap between bat and pad with a big-spinning off-break.

Munaf Patel sent back stand-in skipper Younis Khan for 43 and leg-spinner Anil Kumble dismissed Faisal Iqbal for nought to leave the visitors reeling at 154-5 at lunch.

The visitors were without captain and batsman Shoaib Malik, who is nursing an ankle injury.

Younis stitched a 49-run stand for the fourth wicket with Misbah before flashing at Munaf to edge behind and Iqbal fell lbw to Kumble.

The 33-year-old Misbah, who hit 10 fours, was solid in his 204-ball stint and Akmal plucky in his 210-ball innings as they combined to frustrate the Indian attack, who were hoping to seal the series after victory in the first Test.

Akmal, dropped on 87 by Munaf at fine-leg, outscored Misbah in the latter half of the innings, reaching his hundred with a boundary off Munaf and kissing the turf before raising his bat in celebration.

It was the 25-year-old’s fourth century against India and his first in 15 Tests. His effort contained 20 boundaries.

The hosts won the opening test by six wickets and the final Test will be played in Bangalore next week. — Reuters

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