Younus Khan served another reminder to Pakistan’s cricket board of his industrious batting talent as the ‘hosts’ gained a moral victory in the drawn first Test against South Africa at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium.
Set a huge target of 451, not many gave the home team a chance to survive given the prevailing conditions and their brittle batting order but Pakistan managed to end the fifth day with 343 for three before the batsmen offered Graeme Smith, the Proteas captain, the draw with 15 scheduled overs remaining.
In his first game on returning to Test cricket, after having been banned by the Pakistan Cricket Board in March this year without being given any reason, Younus hit 131 not out — his 17th Test century — and stitched a valuable 186-run partnership with the captain Misbah ul-Haq, who also remained unbeaten on 76.
This was also a record for the fourth wicket between the two countries. Younus had opted out of two series late last year because the players revolted against him but rather than backing their non-controversial batting mainstay, the board banned him indefinitely.
Starting the day at 109 for two, the overnight batsman Azhar Ali was bowled by Paul Harris for 63 but he and Younus had added a respectable 82 runs at that stage.
Some luck went their way too, as Younis was dropped very early in the day by the wicketkeeper Mark Boucher on 16, and then again by Jacques Kallis at second slip when he was on 70 with Dale Steyn, the bowler to suffer on both occasions.
Misbah also was dropped by Hashim Amla at short-leg off the bowling off Johan Botha.
Younus hit four sixes, all of Botha, the last coming in the 15th over before the scheduled close. Pakistan needed 118 runs at that stage and opinion was strong that Pakistan could have a go at the once improbable win.
The highest run chase in Test history remains at 418, set by the West Indies against Australia in Antigua in 2003.
The second Test match between Pakistan and South Africa starts on November 20 at the Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi.