Birmingham: Zulqarnain Haider overcame personal anguish over his ill father to produce the innings of his life on his test debut to give Pakistan a fighting chance of an unlikely win over England on Sunday.
Haider scored 88 after coming in with his team struggling on 82 for five. He turned the match on its head when it seemed England were nearing an innings win to go 2-0 up in the four-match series.
Instead, by the close of the third day, Pakistan had a lead of 112 runs and were eyeing a fairytale win. The lanky 24-year-old wicketkeeper, picked ahead of the out-of-form Kamran Akmal, is enduring a difficult time while his father is in a Pakistani hospital where he is 'stable' with hepatitis C having been brought out of a coma. "(Haider's father) was a bit better, I hope and pray he comes through and that the stress goes for Zulq," Pakistan captain Salman Butt told reporters at Edgbaston.
"The last time I spoke to him he wasn't that well, I don't know about today but I will ask him tonight." Haider, whose mother died of cancer 10 years ago, is donating half of his match fee to the Shawkat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital in Lahore in her memory.
Haider combined in partnerships of 52 with Mohammad Amir and 115 with Saeed Ajmal. This was after he looked to have bagged the unwanted tag of a 'king pair' when given out lbw to Graeme Swann first ball. But a referral showed the ball had turned too much. "He showed great ability under pressure," said Butt.
"Emotionally he's been under a lot of stress for quite a few days. It is remarkable the way he has played and he has shown us all that if you are willing to stay there and take the pain, you surely gain."
Haider faced 200 deliveries and demonstrated strength of character while England's bowlers threw everything at him -- literally. Fast bowler Stuart Broad became so frustrated when Haider was on 22 that he hurled the ball at him and struck him on the shoulder. The fact he remained for a good deal longer said much about his resolve, especially on his debut.
"He did really well considering he could have had a king pair if we didn't have a review system," Swann said. "It would have been one of the most talked-about debuts for the wrong reasons. "But all credit to him. He was annoying in the way he wouldn't get out and he was trying to wind us up with his running between the wickets and stuff like that but that is all part of cricket and I take my hat off to him. He applied himself really well."