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Akmal masterminds Pak's escape

PTI | ByManoj Vatsyayana (AFP), Mohali
Mar 13, 2005 12:42 AM IST

Akmal's 1st Test ton snatched a creditable draw for Pak from the jaws of defeat. Star of the day|Replay|Score

Pakistan found an unlikely saviour in Kamran Akmal to snatch a creditable draw from the jaws of defeat in the opening Test against India on Saturday.

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Pakistan faced defeat when they resumed batting on the fifth and final morning as they were 53 ahead with last four wickets in hand, but Akmal turned the match upside-down with his superb maiden Test century under pressure.

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The wicketkeeper-batsman, 23, exceeded expectations as he slammed a solid 109 in only his 11th match to help his team post a massive 496/9 declared in the second innings, their highest total in India.

Pakistan batted more than two sessions to shatter India's hopes of victory in the first match of a three-Test series, thanks to unsung Akmal's resolute batting.

India finished the day at 85/1 after being set an improbable target of 293 runs off 25 overs, with Virender Sehwag scoring 36 and Gautam Gambhir an unbeaten 32.

Pakistan gained a big psychological boost ahead of the second Test in Kolkata with their gutsy lower-order batting, led by Akmal, after being under pressure on the first four days of the match.

Akmal led the remarkable recovery as he steered his team to safety with a record 184-run stand with Abdul Razzaq, a free-stroking batsman who curbed his shots in his team's interest.

Razzaq scored 71 off 260 balls.

The partnership was Pakistan's best for the seventh wicket against India, surpassing the previous highest of 154 between Imran Khan and Ijaz Faqih at Ahmedabad in 1986.

Akmal became only the second Pakistani wicket-keeper after Imtiaz Ahmed (1960-61) to score a Test hundred against India when he fluently drove leg-spinner Anil Kumble through the covers for his 15th four.

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