Sarfraz revels in 'special' Test-saving century.

KARACHI -- Sarfraz Ahmed's arms were outstretched as he completed that second run. Once he went past the wicket, he leapt and punched the air with his bat. Then, he punched the ground - throwing six in all; perhaps at all those who said he was finished. A prostration followed. The elaborate celebration said it all. Four years after being frozen out of the playing XI, eight years after he'd last reached this mark, he'd finally hit a Test century for Pakistan.

There was a roar by his hometown fans, few in number, who were here to witness it at the National Stadium. In the hospitality box, to the right of the end he was batting on, his family and friends cheered. The timing of this innings, as much as it meant to him, meant a lot for Pakistan too. His hundred meant the hosts had a genuine chance of winning this second Test and the series against New Zealand.

Pakistan had lost both their home series preceding this one - against Australia and then England - but with Sarfraz at the crease, having been recalled for this one, they had hope that at the very least, they could draw this one. Sarfraz had hit fifties in both innings of the drawn first Test and followed it with another half-century in the first innings of this one.

Sarfraz knew that the job now was to finish off this one. Pakistan had failed to notch a single victory in the seven Tests before this one across the three series. Sarfraz and Agha Salman, who'd joined the 35-year-old when he was nearing his century, were attempting to knock off the remaining runs as dusk approached.

But after Salman departed, the ploy changed. The aim was to survive and save the Test. Sarfraz, whose 118 featured nine fours and a six, would eventually become the ninth Pakistan batter dismissed. He didn't finish the job but he'd set the stage. It was ultimately tailenders Naseem Shah and Abrar Ahmed who braved the intense New Zealand pressure amid fading light as Pakistan finished with 304-9 in their fourth innings after having been set a target of 319.

'I've played crucial innings in the past but the pressure here was different,' Sarfraz, who was named man-of-the-match and the series, told reporters. 'It's not easy to bat in the fourth innings so I'd rate it as my best century.' Even more so, because it was his first in his hometown. 'I'd missed out on a century in the first innings [when Sarfraz was dismissed for 78],' he would add. 'This was very special. It was a dream come true.'


To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT