Panesar shines before Pakistan rally

Saturday, 28 January 2012 01:08 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Reuters: Monty Panesar ripped through Pakistan’s top order to reduce the hosts to 125 for four at the close of the third day of the second test on Friday, 55 runs ahead of England’s first innings total.

Spinner Panesar, playing his first test match since 2009, dispatched opener Mohammad Hafeez (22), captain Misbah-ul-Haq (12) and Younus Khan (1) in Abu Dhabi to leave Pakistan struggling on 54 for four with England looking well-placed to avenge their 10-wicket defeat in the series opener last week.

However, batsmen Asad Shafiq and Azhar Ali dug in, roared on by the team’s passionate support as they put on an unbeaten fifth-wicket stand of 71.

Security problems have forced Pakistan to play home matches in the Gulf, but with more than a million Pakistanis living in the United Arab Emirates the Abu Dhabi crowd was firmly behind Misbah’s men.

Pakistan’s raucous supporters filled the stands, the attendance swelling after midday prayers. Every run brought exuberant cheers as England’s bowling menace waned as the session end drew near.

Shafiq (35) and Ali (46) upped Pakistan’s run rate from just 73 in the first 40 overs of the innings to 52 from the final 21 overs.