| V.V.S. Laxman pacifies Anil Kumble, who was involved in a tiff with Inzamam-ul Haq, during Day II of the second Test in Lahore on Tuesday. (Reuters)
Lahore: Pakistan rode centuries from Imran Farhat and skipper Inzamam-ul Haq to set the stage for a huge first innings lead over India in the second Test which was marred by some controversial umpiring decisions on Day 2 on Tuesday.
After the 22-year-old Farhat laid the platform with a sparkling 101, Inzamam led from the front with an unbeaten 118 as Pakistan reached 355 for three at stumps in reply to India’s first innings score of 287.
Inzamam’s unbroken 150-run partnership with deputy Yusuf Youhana, batting on 62, saw the hosts gain the upperhand for the first time in the series, which Pakistan trail 0-1, with a lead of 68.
After the innings and 52-run victory in the first Test, Rahul Dravid and his men were at the receiving end for most part of the day, claiming only two wickets on a track which had lost its juice and gave little support to bowlers.
There were three close decisions which went in Pakistan’s favour in the final session of the day.
First it was Irfan Pathan whose luck ran out when his incoming deliveries to Inzamam and Youhana rapped them on the pads but umpire Steve Bucknor shot down the appeals. The skipper was on 65 and his deputy on 35 then.
Youhana again survived a confident appeal for caught-behind off Anil Kumble three runs later with umpire Simon Taufel ruling in favour of the batsman.
The Indians managed to get the wicket of Taufeeq Umar in the first hour but Inzamam’s third-wicket stand of 110 with Farhat followed by his association with Youhana stalled their progress. Inzamam showed superb application during his 320-minute vigil and rarely played a loose shot to record his first century as captain and also the first one against India.
Resuming at of 61 for one, Farhat and Yasir Hameed played cautiously in the initial stages. Farhat was the more aggressive and just when it looked that the two would survive the crucial first hour, Ajit Agarkar struck in his first over of the morning by getting rid of Umar.
The dismissal of Umar brought Inzamam to the crease and the in-form batsman immediately got into business by producing a delectable square cut to the point boundary.
“We have to score 500 or 600 and put pressure on the opposition. We know India has a formidable batting line-up, and the only way we can put pressure on them is by taking a big lead,” Inzamam said.
He said his team was aware that batting last could be a difficult proposition and that is why they were keen to gain a huge first innings lead. “Batting last on any track is difficult, it will be the same here. That is why we need to take a big lead, hopefully that will put pressure on the Indians.”
Inzamam said the track had something for the bowlers but the batsmen could occupy the crease for long if they concentrated hard enough. “The wicket was playing well. It supported the bowlers also and I think the Indian bowlers bowled very well. The batsmen needed to concentrate for playing a long innings.”
Inzamam admitted there was considerable pressure on him when he came into bat. “Yes, there was a lot of pressure on me, particularly after the defeat in the first Test. The team needed me to play a big innings so I had that in the back of my mind. But our work is not yet over, we have to carry on like this tomorrow,” he said. “I just tried to play ball by ball and not do anything ambitious. My plan was to stay as long as possible at the wicket.”
The right-hander said his boys had worked very hard before the match. “We knew that we had to do well in this Test to remain in contention. We wanted a good session and we had it on the first day by taking four Indian wickets.”
Frustrated by the inability to break through, Kumble lost his cool for a moment and after one of his appeals was turned down, threw back the ball to the ’keeper, forcing Inzamam to duck down.
“There were a few words exchanged, but it was nothing big,” Inzamam said. “We had a few laughs and made up after the game. All this is part of modern-day cricket.”