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Ton-up Akmal fights for Pakistan after Pathan's hat-trick
by AFP


Ground:National Stadium, Karachi
Player:Kamran Akmal, IK Pathan
Event:India in Pakistan 2005/06

DateLine: 29th January 2006

 

Kamran Akmal smashed 113 to rescue Pakistan after Indian seamer Irfan Pathan had grabbed a hat-trick in a dramatic start to the final Test here on Sunday.

 

The gutsy wicket-keeper's fourth Test hundred helped Pakistan recover from a disastrous 39-6 within the first hour to reach 245 in their first innings.

 

The seaming wicket at the National Stadium did not spare the Indians either, who were 74-4 in reply at stumps and waging a grim struggle for survival at the crease.

 

Akmal was once more in the thick of the action, taking catches off Indian captain Rahul Dravid (three) and Virender Sehwag (five).

 

India lost two wickets at 56 when Venkatsai Laxman (19) was bowled by a huge in-cutter from Mohammad Asif and Sachin Tendulkar (23) also had his stumps shattered by Abdul Razzaq.

 

Former captain Sourav Ganguly (nine) and Yuvraj Singh (seven) were at the crease when time ran out with 11 overs still remaining to be bowled.

 

The rattle of wickets contrasted sharply with the high-scoring draws in the first two Tests in Lahore and Faisalabad which produced 2,791 runs and saw only 36 of the possible 80 wickets fall.

 

Pakistan, given first strike by Dravid, were rocked by Pathan's three-in-a-row trick in the first over of the match.

 

The left-arm seamer had Salman Butt caught at first slip off the fourth delivery, trapped stand-in captain Younis Khan leg-before with the fifth and clean bowled Mohammad Yousuf off the sixth.

 

Pathan finished with five for 61, while fellow left-arm seamers Rudra Pratap Singh and Zaheer Khan shared the remaining five wickets as Pakistan's innings lasted less than five hours.

 

Akmal put on 115 for the seventh wicket with Razzaq (45) and 82 for the eighth with Shoaib Akhtar, who was last man out for a pugnacious 45.

 

Akmal, who survived a botched stumping by his Indian counterpart Mahendra Dhoni when he was on 80, hit 18 boundaries in a brilliant counter-attack.

 

Pakistan, already without skipper Inzamam-ul Haq for the decisive Test because of a back injury, aided the Indians by some reckless strokes.

 

Faisal Iqbal, who replaced Inzamam, fell leg-before to Zaheer for five to make it 31-4 in the sixth over.

 

Zaheer then bowled the dangerous Shahid Afridi for 10 as the batsman attempted to loft a good-length ball for six.

 

Pakistan slumped from 37-5 to 39-6 as opener Imran Farhat edged a wild heave off Singh and gave Dhoni an easy catch.

 

Left-hander Farhat, drafted in place of Shoaib Malik who is mourning the death last week of his father, made 22.

 

Razzaq and Akmal then put their heads down to help Pakistan surpass their lowest Test score of 53 against Australia in Sharjah in 2002.

 

The 21-year-old Pathan joined Harbhajan Singh as the only Indian bowlers to claim the coveted hat-trick in Test cricket. Off-spinner Singh achieved the feat against Australia in Kolkata in 2001.

 

Pathan's feat was the 36th instance of a Test hat-trick but the first time it has happened in the opening over of the match.

 

Three bowlers, Thomas Matthews and Hugh Trumble of Australia and Wasim Akram of Pakistan, have achieved the feat twice.

 

India abandoned plans to play five specialist bowlers and brought back former captain Sourav Ganguly in place of Harbhajan.

(Article: Copyright © 2006 AFP)



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