Shahid Afridi and Inzamam plunder centuries

Shahid Afridi punished the Indian bowlers with a career-best 156 off 128 balls as Pakistan built strong first innings total Sunday on the second day of the second cricket test.

Afridi, 85 overnight, delighted a holiday crowd of 15,000 at Iqbal Stadium with his trademark powerful innings that featured 20 fours and six sixes after Pakistan resumed without injured captain Inzamam-ul-Haq at the overnight score of 379-4.

Inzamam was treated for a sore back in the dressing room but returned at the fall of the sixth wicket to complete his 25th test century. He was batting on 101 at lunch with Pakistan sitting at to 516 for seven. Shoaib Akhtar had faced 19 deliveries but was yet to get off the mark. Inzamam, who batted with a runner, hit nine fours and a straight six off legspinner Anil Kumble and completed his century off 162 balls.

It was Inzamam's third test hundred in three months at the same venue after he scored centuries in each innings against England in November last year. Afridi hammered a rocketing straight four off left-arm fast bowler Irfan Pathan in the 90s and completed his century off 96 balls when he hit a big six over wide long-on in the same over.

Afridi's fifth test century, and third against India, included 13 fours and four sixes.

The swashbuckling Pakistan batsman raced to his third 50 in mere 28 deliveries and bettered his previous test best of 141 _ made against India at Madras in 1999.

Afridi punished left-arm seamer Zaheer Khan for 20 runs in one over before he top edged a mistimed sweep off legspinner Anil Kumble and was caught by Yuvraj Singh at square leg.

This ended a 251-run fifth wicket partnership off 296 balls in which three batsmen _ Afridi, Inzamam and Abdul Razzaq featured, the AP reports.

Kumble struck in his next over when he had Kamran Akmal caught at mid-wicket without scoring before Rudra Pratap Singh _ the best among the five Indian bowlers thus far with four for 89 _ had Razzaq (37) caught behind.

A.M.