The day that slipped away from England
Yousuf's unbeaten 185 answers Pakistan's prayers on a long day at Lord's for Strauss
Sunday 16 July 2006
England's cricketers assumed the sporting centre stage for the first time this summer yesterday. If the occasion demanded a tour de force performance it was delivered not by the home side but by Mohammad Yousuf's sumptuous innings for Pakistan.
His unbeaten 185 occupied the entire day and sustained the tourists' chances of earning a draw in the First Test of the four-match series. That is the most probable outcome, since Yousuf was showing no indication of departing the crease and England were always likely to be up against it with only four specialist bowlers.
Pakistan finished the day on 409 for 7, only the second time they have made 400 in a Test match at Lord's. That still left them 119 runs adrift of England, but equally Andrew Strauss's team have to find a way of taking 13 more wickets while still keeping daylight between the sides.
England needed each one of their 528 runs and there were times when Strauss's decision to declare with nine wickets down looked decidedly reckless.
Yousuf's recent form has been startling and he puts it down almost wholly to his decision to convert from Christianity to Islam last year. His average before was pretty good at 47. Since then it is 97.
"I thank Allah every time I play," he said. "It has changed my life and made me a more disciplined person."
Yousuf explained that he still manages to pray five times a day, even during Test matches, and does so at 4.30am, during the tea interval, immediately after play, at 9.30pm and 10.45pm.
He kissed the Lord's turf upon reaching his hundred and may be doing so again at least once in this match. Yousuf shared a long fifth-wicket partnership with his captain Inzamam-ul-Haq, who made 69.
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