Sun, 13 Mar 2005


Defiant Akmal, Razzaq help Pakistan eke out draw

Agencies, Mohali, India

Pakistan discovered a new hero in Kamran Akmal, who smashed his maiden test century and shared a defiant 184-run partnership with Abdul Razzaq to help it salvage a draw from a grave situation in the opening test match against India on Saturday.

Wicketkeeper-batsman Akmal led Pakistan's fight back from a glum situation by smashing an attacking 109 and Razzaq dropped anchor during his patient 71 to thwart India's victory charge.

Resuming at the overnight score of 257 for six, defeat was staring Pakistan in the face, but Akmal and Razzaq defied the Indian bowlers for 52.3 overs Saturday and Pakistan declared its second innings on 496 for eight, leaving India no chance to set up a chase.

India, which led by 204 runs in the first innings, scored 85 for one in 70 minutes before the umpires removed the bails to signal that the series opener was drawn.

Pakistan had scored 312 in its first innings and India responded with 516.

"I had a big challenge in front of me, but my confidence was high after the tour of Australia," said Akmal, who hit a one-day century as an opener against the West Indies during the Australian tri-series.

"Razzaq guided me throughout ... Whenever I made a mistake, he came and advised me how to handle the situation," Akmal said.

In Christchurch, Adam Gilchrist and Simon Katich each hit hundreds in a double-century partnership to leave the first test between New Zealand and Australia hanging in the balance after day three in Christchurch on Saturday.

Gilchrist smashed 121 off 126 balls and Katich made a patient 118 from 229 deliveries to help Australia get within one run of New Zealand's first innings total of 433.

The Kiwis then survived six overs before the close of play to reach nine without loss in their second innings, a lead of 10 runs. Captain Stephen Fleming was seven not out and Craig Cumming on two.

"We had the momentum so much there and I felt like I'd opened the door again," Gilchrist told a news conference.

"Not that New Zealand were out of it, but the momentum was ours."

New Zealand were on top after dismissing skipper Ricky Ponting (46), Michael Clarke (eight) and nightwatchman Jason Gillespie (12) before lunch to leave Australia teetering at 201 for six.

But Gilchrist and Katich turned things around with a partnership of 212, five runs short of Australia's all-time record for the seventh wicket.

New Zealand will resume on Sunday with Fleming on six and Craig Cumming on three.