Agence France Presse

Bangalore, March 24:

Inzamam-ul-Haq celebrated his 100th Test with a gem of a century and Younis Khan made an unbeaten 127 to lead Pakistan’s fightback in the third and final Test against India here on Thursday. Pakistan lost two wickets for seven runs before posting 323-2 at stumps on the opening day, thanks to an unfinished 316-run stand for the third wicket between Inzamam (184 not out) and vice-captain Younis Khan. Younis, who scored 147 in the second Test at Kolkata, completed his second successive Test hundred to play a big role in Pakistan’s revival. This was his eighth ton in 35 Tests. Pakistan are attempting to force a series-levelling win after losing the Kolkata Test by 195 runs. The first Test in Mohali ended in a draw. Inzamam did everything right in his special match, first giving his team a big advantage by winning the toss on a good batting track and then completing a fluent 21st Test hundred under pressure to steer his team to safety.

The Pakistani captain overshadowed Younis, who began slowly before going for big shots. Younis hit the first six of the day, lofting off-spinner Harbhajan Singh over long-on. It was a frustrating day for the Indian bowlers as the Pakistani batting flourished after the soft dismissals of openers Shahid Afridi and Yasir Hameed in the opening three overs. Harbhajan and Younis exchanged words in the final session, requiring the intervention of Inzamam and New Zealand umpire Billy Bowden. But the day belonged to Inzamam, who became only the fifth batsman to score a hundred on his 100th Test appearance. Others who achieved the feat are Englishmen Colin Cowdrey and Alec Stewart, Pakistan’s Javed Miandad and West Indian Gordon Greenidge. Inzamam was cheered by nearly 25,000 spectators at the Chinnaswamy Stadium after reaching his century in the afternoon session with a single to square-leg off seamer Irfan Pathan.

The Indian bowlers looked into the fray only in the opening three overs when they reduced Pakistan to 7-2. They then failed to maintain pressure on Inzamam and Younis as runs kept flowing at a brisk pace, especially in the last two sessions which yielded as many as 230 runs.

Inzamam was all grace and elegance, timing the ball beautifully against both spinners and seamers to find various parts of the boundary during his 263-ball knock containing 25 fours.

Younis initially played a supporting role before matching his captain shot for shot. He has so far struck one six and 12 fours in his chanceless 267-ball knock. Inzamam and Younis produced big knocks just when their team needed them most as both the openers had fallen cheaply. Afridi fell off the first ball he faced when he edged fast bowler Laxmipathy Balaji’s delivery straight to Rahul Dravid, who held a regulation slip catch. Hameed (6), omitted for the last two Tests, failed to justify his selection when he drove Pathan away from his body to be caught behind. But Inzamam and Younis ended India’s early celebrations with their responsible knocks.