Azhar sets tone for Pakistan fightback but misses century

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The Independent Online

Azhar Ali fell 10 runs short of a maiden Test century as Pakistan reached 317 for six at the close on the third day of the second Test against South Africa at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium yesterday. Azhar, who scored 56 and 63 in the drawn first Test in Dubai, drove Dale Steyn to Graeme Smith at mid-off.

Captain Misbah-ul-Haq continued Azhar's good work with an unbeaten 77 to give his side hope of passing the follow-on target of 384. South Africa declared their first innings on 584 for nine.

Misbah and debutant Asad Shafiq (61) shared a stand of 107 for the fifth wicket before left-arm spinner Paul Harris induced an edge from Shafiq, which was taken by Jacques Kallis at slip.

Rahul Dravid (191) and Mahendra Singh Dhoni (98) batted with supreme authority to steer India into a huge lead as New Zealand were left with an uphill task of batting out two days to save the deciding Test in Nagpur. That task became harder after Harbhajan Singh dismissed opener Tim McIntosh to leave the tourists at 24 for one, still needing 349 runs to make India bat again. India declared their first innings at 566 for eight with a lead of 373.

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