DUBAI // Mohammed Hafeez was not in the original Pakistan squad for the Test series, and played the last of his 11 Tests three years ago. Taufeeq Umar had spent four years on the sidelines with his last appearance being the Leeds Test against England of August 2006.
Circumstances brought the two together at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium yesterday, against one of the best new-ball pairs in world cricket, Morne Morkel and Dale Steyn.
The duo made the best of their chance, scripting Pakistan’s highest and only 100-plus partnership for the opening wicket since January’s infamous Sydney Test against Australia when Salman Butt and Imran Farhat made 109.
Hafeez was retained for the Test series following an impressive showing in the one-day internationals, where he scored 203 runs. He continued his good run yesterday, scoring 60 before virtually gifting his wicket away to Paul Harris.
Umar got his chance after Butt’s provisional suspension following spot-fixing allegations. And he made a solid 42 before Morkel caught him leg before.
The two wickets fell within six runs of each other, but their 105-run partnership helped the “home” side close the day on 144 for two in reply to the Proteas’ first innings score of 380.
The Hafeez-Umar partnership was the ideal start for Pakistan after an impressive performance in the field, when they grabbed South Africa’s last seven wickets for 62 runs, despite being a bowler short following Wahab Riaz’s injury.
With his new-ball partner missing, Umar Gul, who had figures of 18.3-3-73-0 on the first day, picked up the gauntlet and wrecked South Africa’s start to the day with three wickets inside 20 balls. “There was a bit of pressure on me because we were playing with just two seamers and Riaz was ruled out,” Gul said. “We also had the new ball in the morning, so there was an extra burden on me.
“Thankfully, I bowled a long spell and got wickets as well. Younus Khan also did a great job of containing at the other end. He bowled seven overs for some 11-odd runs.
“After the opening day, we had a long chat with the coach. We felt that we had given away about 30 or 40 runs extra. So our strategy this morning was to stop the runs and then get the wickets. It worked.”
After Gul’s fantastic show, Hafeez and Umar took the stage, batting together for the first time a 140-run partnership against Bangladesh at Peshawar in August 2003. That remains the highest opening-wicket partnership for Pakistan. “I am confident that after the kind of start Hafeez and Umar have given us, and the way Younus is playing, we will manage to get a good first innings score,” Gul said.
Pakistan (1st innings)
Mohammad Hafeez c Smith b Harris 60
Taufeeq Umar lbw Morkel 42
Azhar Ali not out 12
Younis Khan not out 21
Extras: (9lb) 9
TOTAL: (for 2 wickets) 144
Fall of wickets: 1-105, 2-111
Still to bat: Misbah-ul-Haq, Umar Akmal, Adnan Akmal, Abdur Rehman, Wahab Riaz, Saeed Ajmal, Umar Gul.
Bowling: Dale Steyn 11-3-38-0, Morne Morkel 10-3-38-1, Paul Harris 20-6-34-1, Jacques Kallis 4-1-7-0, Johan Botha 10-3-18-0.
South Africa (1st innings)
Graeme Smith c T Umar b Riaz 100
Alviro Petersen c Khan b Rehman 67
Hashim Amla c A Akmal b Riaz 80
Jacques Kallis c A Akmal b Ajmal 73
Paul Harris c Khan b Gul 0
AB de Villiers b Gul 5
Ashwell Prince lbw Gul 1
Mark Boucher lbw Rehman 9
Johan Botha b Rehman 10
Dale Steyn not out 10
Morne Morkel lbw Ajmal 10
Extras: (2lb, 9b, 3nb, 1w) 15
TOTAL: (all out) 380
Fall of wickets: 1-153, 2-190, 3-307, 4-318, 5-327, 6-329, 7-345, 8-347, 9-363, 10-380
Bowling: Umar Gul 27-4-100-3 (1nb), Wahab Riaz 18-3-61-2 (1nb, 1w), Abdur Rehman 32-2-101-3, Saeed Ajmal 35-6-95-2, Mohammad Hafeez 1-0-1-0, Younis Khan 7-2-11-0 (1nb).