Ton-up Fawad gives Pakistan control in first Test against South Africa
Fawad Alam gave further evidence of his considerable patience with a grafting century which helped Pakistan take a useful first innings lead over South Africa on the second day of the first Test in Karachi on Wednesday.
The 35-year-old left-hander, who returned to the side last August after a decade in the international wilderness, scored 109 in almost six hours to anchor Pakistan's 308-8 at the National Stadium, lifting the team from a precarious overnight total of 33-4.
Azhar Ali and Faheem Ashraf also weighed in with half-centuries as Pakistan closed with a lead of 88 after bowling South Africa out for 220 on the first day.
Just four wickets fell on the second day which was in stark contrast to the opening when 14 wickets tumbled on the grassless pitch. It would have been different had South Africa not dropped four catches.
Fawad, relishing his first Test at his home ground, added 102 runs for the seventh wicket with Faheem who cracked a relatively rapid 64 from 84 balls.
Resuming on five and with Pakistan in serious trouble, Fawad led the recovery with an invaluable 94-run stand for the fifth wicket with Azhar, who played within himself for three hours 40 minutes for his 51.
Fawad had a life on 35 when Dean Elgar failed to cling on to a sharp edge off Keshav Maharaj in the slips but he and Azhar, who survived a tight leg before shout and review from left-arm spinner George Linde, batted right through the morning to take Pakistan to 104-4 at lunch.
Fawad added another 55 for the sixth wicket with Mohammad Rizwan who made a counter-attacking before edging Lungo Ngidi to Faf du Plessis at first slip.
Third Test century
Shortly after tea, Fawad opened his shoulders to hit a flighted delivery from spinner Keshav Maharaj for a six over long-on which brought up his third Test century in just his eighth Test.
"It was my dream to score a hundred at home and what better time to do it then when the team was in a difficult situation," said Fawad, who now has 38 hundreds in first class cricket.
"Azhar and I decided that we should bat long and take the total as close to South Africa as possible and I am happy that we have done close to that."
He was finally caught at mid-wicket off Ngidi after batting for six minutes under six hours, hitting nine boundaries and two sixes.
Fawad's ton marked yet another remarkable milestone in his return to international cricket.
After making a debut hundred in Sri Lanka in 2009, Fawad played just twice more that year before being dropped -- for 10 years and 259 days.
Despite scoring heavily in Pakistan's domestic matches, he was constantly overlooked, primarily because of his peculiar stance -- facing front-on to the bowler before turning side-on when playing the ball.
He was recalled for Pakistan's tour of England in August last year but his first innings back ended with a four-ball duck in Southampton.
But he followed up with another gutsy century in the first Test defeat by New Zealand in Mount Maunganui in December.
Ashraf's entertaining 64, which included nine boundaries, ended in unorthodox fashion when he jammed down on a yorker from Anrich Nortje only to see the ball backspin into his stumps.
The two-match series marks South Africa's first trip to Pakistan in 14 years, after a deadly 2009 attack on Sri Lanka's team halted visits by foreign sides.