The real Khan shows up

2013-02-14 16:11

Pakistan: 133/4 (Younus Khan 54*, Asad Shafiq 50*, Morkel 2/32, Philander 1/23, Steyn 1/24)

The real Younus Khan finally showed up as he and Asad Shafiq thwarted the Proteas’ bowling for a full session.

It was remorseless stuff and it was very un-Pakistani for a boundary not to be leathered every second over, but the application was needed in order for this game to see a fourth or fifth day.

The stout partnership between Asad Shafiq and Younus Khan steadied the ship after the loss of four early wickets.

Their graft seemed to make a mockery of Graeme Smith’s decision not to bat first.

With the ball now 57 overs old, it was the time to consolidate and cash in.

The pair did exactly that to the tune of an unbroken 100-run stand.

To their credit, the Proteas’ bowling attack did not let their guard down – but it was clear the duo were in no mood to reprise the horrible first innings collapse.

Only 73 runs were scored, but importantly for Pakistan they went through the session without losing a wicket. It was more than New Zealand could do.

There were close shaves, with the normally reliable Shafiq mixing solid defence with uncalculated flashes of stupidity outside off stump.

The edges that made contact often flew between the slips and he was beaten by a peach from Vernon Philander that somehow stayed away from the edge of his bat.

The young gun, who has a problem converting starts, once again looked assured.

His ninth test 50, compiled off 115 balls, had all the temperament of an established veteran but, coupled with two hundreds, it’s a stat he needs to fix.

Younus Khan has been due for a big contribution and even though it still needs to be converted into a big one, it is something he does very well.

A century on South African soil is the one box he still has to tick.

Only three Pakistani batsmen, in Taufeeq Umar, Saeed Anwar and Azhar Mahmood have scored centuries in South Africa.

He is 46 runs away and there is still a long way to go.

It’s a score Pakistan need from him.

His 133-ball 50, which was raised with a pulled six over mid-wicket off Robin Peterson, contained only four boundaries.

He provided a lesson in how to put the bad ball away in a style and grace that only he’s capable of.

His wicket will be the most important on a flattening track but there were no signs of decreased hostility from the pace attack.

It will take more than raw pace to dislodge this obdurate pair.

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