Zulqarnain who has come into the Pakistan team as debutant wicket-keeper saved the blushes for Pakistan, at Birmingham, on Sunday, with a fighting 88.
The team at one stage looked likely to embarrass themselves for a third time in a row with a sub-200 score.
Zulqarnain (88) was involved in a 115 run 8th wicket partnership with Saeed Ajmal (50) after Pakistan were floundering on 153/7, and staring at an innings defeat after conceding a 179 run first innings lead to England.
Kamran Akmal had enjoyed a monopoly as Pakistan’s wicket keeper for a long time, before Zulqarnain was brought in to replace him .
Akmal was never the best keeper but his batting kept him afloat in a team given to dramatic collapses.
But Akmal’s failure to come to the party with the bat in recent times, and particularly in the Nottingham test where Pakistan failed to reach 200 in either innings, has finally forced the team to go for a new keeper.
Dismissed for 72 in the first innings, Pakistan finished the third day of the second test match, being played at Edgbaston, on 291/9.
Zulqarnain Haider’s resilient 88 came in 200 balls, even as the England bowlers struggled to get through the Pakistan tail, after their top order had collapsed in a heap, a scene that has become all too familiar.
In the first innings, the young keeper was out for a first ball duck. He was on a king pair in the second when he was rapped on the pad by Swann’s first delivery and umpire Steve Davis raised his finger. The matter was referred upstairs under the UDRS, and replays showed the ball missing the leg stump.
But for the UDRS system, the umpire’s error would have undone a fine debut innings and perhaps destroyed the young man’s confidence. Playing under pressure, Haider stood up to be counted when it mattered most, to register his maiden fifty in Test cricket.
In their first innings, England put up 251 runs on the score board, on the back of fifties from Trott and Pietersen. Pakistan now lead them by 112 runs. For England, the hero was Graeme Swann who took 6 wickets, with a career best of 6/60.
England are currently favourites to win the match, which will surely be remembered for debutant Zulqarnain Haider’s brave knock.
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