Younis Khan’s record-equaling century on day one of the first Test against Australia in Abu Dhabi helped Pakistan recover from the loss of two early wickets to gain the upper hand in the match.
Opening batsmen, Mohammad Hafeez and Ahmed Shehzad, were both dismissed in the first five overs as Australia looked to rip through the opposition top order.
Mitchell Johnson (3-22) was the pick of the Aussie bowlers, taking a wicket with each new ball.
But Khan (106) came to the rescue with his 25th Test century, and received good support from Azhar Ali (53) and captain Misbah-ul-Haq (34*) as Pakistan ended the opening day on 219-4.
Pakistan’s decision to bat first initially seemed as though it may have been the wrong one, especially when the scoreboard read 7-2 in the fourth over.
Mitchell Johnson removed Mohammad Hafeez for a duck with just the fifth delivery of the Test match. The Australian seamer seemingly had to much pace for the batsman to deal with, as he was caught on the toe and given out LBW.
And his opening partner, Ahmed Shehzad (3), was not far behind him on his respective return to the pavilion. The right-hander shuffled too far across his stumps in an attempt to hit Peter Siddle through mid-wicket, but the delivery ended up making a mess of the stumps.
But – despite removing both openers cheaply, and early – it was not to be Australia’s day, as Azhar Ali and Younis Khan steered the home team away from potential capitulation.
Both top-order players were measured in their approaches and scored at a steady rate but what mattered was that they were getting runs on the board, slowly but surely.
Having arrived at the crease in the opening over, Ali avoided too many close calls to survive until the late afternoon. His half-century was brought up as he swept Nathan Lyon for four.
But Mitchell Johnson dismissed him shortly after, giving Alex Doolan a relatively simple catch at short cover.
The player of the day was undoubtedly Younis Khan, who scored a century to build a foundation from which Pakistan can really grow into this Test match.
The 36-year-old drew level with Inzamam-ul-Haq on 25 Test tons for his country with a huge six over long-on off the bowling of Lyon. Khan duly received a big hug from captain – and batting partner – Misbah-ul-Haq, who evidently knew the importance of the knock.
Johnson hit back yet again in the final hour of the day though, spoiling the centurion’s celebrations by trapping him LBW for 106. Despite calling up for a review, Khan had to walk, but did so in the knowledge that he had dug his side out of trouble once more.
Misbah made it to the close unbeaten on 34 and left the field with Asad Shafiq (9*) alongside him.