Pakistan v Sri Lanka, 1st Test, Abu Dhabi, 3rd day

Pakistan ride on Taufeeq double-century

The Report by Abhishek Purohit

October 20, 2011

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Sri Lanka 47 for 1 and 197 trail Pakistan 511 for 6 dec (Taufeeq 236, Hafeez 75, Azhar 70) by 267 runs
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Taufeeq Umar hit is maiden Test double-ton, Pakistan v Sri Lanka, 1st Test, Abu Dhabi, 3rd day, October 20, 2011
Taufeeq Umar's mammoth knock was his best in Tests © Associated Press
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Twelve hours of monkish accumulation in the Abu Dhabi heat earned Taufeeq Umar only the seventh double-century by a Pakistan opener, and the first since 1992. It also left a tired Sri Lanka waiting for a declaration as Pakistan's batsmen, barring Misbah-ul-Haq, favoured accumulation over urgency. Misbah finally relented about an hour before close of play, after the lead was 314, leaving the Sri Lanka openers a testing period to survive.

Sri Lanka's day got worse when umpire Tony Hill, who is having a rough game, harshly adjudged Tharanga Paranavitana leg-before first ball. Several close shaves against the new ball followed, which was the last thing Sri Lanka needed after Taufeeq had ground them out of the match.

Taufeeq went through three contrasting partnerships on the third day: he collected runs without risk with Younis Khan, stepped back as Misbah attacked the bowlers and finally took charge when Asad Shafiq - coming in at 436 for 4 - remained stuck on 1 for 30 deliveries.

As is often the case in sagas of self-denial, there wasn't a particular Taufeeq stroke that stood out. What did was the way he got his runs - dabbing and steering when he could have indulged in a cut, stepping out to clip and drive when he could have lofted, nudging when he could have flicked. He patted away numerous half-volleys and scored less than a third of his runs in boundaries. He ran 90 singles, 21 twos and 10 threes in the sapping heat.

There were also outside edges that did not carry, inside edges that missed the stumps and a let-off soon after Taufeeq had reached his century yesterday, but in an innings that spanned close to 500 deliveries, it was almost par for the course. Taufeeq continued to pull with zest throughout, showing that nine successive sessions on the field had not diminished his effort.

With Taufeeq's patience at one end, Misbah brought the urgency the innings had begun to scream for before umpire Tony Hill ruled him caught behind, his third big error of the game.

After Chanaka Welegedara had accounted for Azhar Ali in the seventh over of the morning, Taufeeq and Younis ensured Sri Lanka's relief was temporary with a stand that had a sense of inevitability in the resolute manner it was built. Welegedara tested Pakistan in the morning, getting nip off the surface and swing in the air. A ripping inswinger uprooted Azhar's off stump. It was the tenth time Azhar had failed to convert a half-century into a Test hundred.

Apart from that, and a couple of edges and mis-hits that didn't carry to the fielders, Pakistan carried on unbothered, though they did not really dominate. Taufeeq and Younis hardly took any risks. Younis benefited from a dropped catch by Prasanna Jayawardene off Tillakaratne Dilshan when on 16 but was handed a marginal leg-before decision by umpire Rod Tucker. It was again Welegedara who earned the breakthrough with a delivery that straightened a little.

Younis' departure quickened proceedings considerably. With a mixture of slog-sweeps, a late cut and a reverse-sweep, Misbah chugged along at close to run-a-ball. Even Rangana Herath, who had troubled Pakistan the most, was reduced to bowling in the rough outside leg stump from over the wicket. The line got rid of Misbah just before tea, though the ball had only brushed his sleeve before being taken by Prasanna Jayawardene. Taufeeq was again left to push on with another new batsman for company.

This time, Taufeeq was forced to be the aggressor, with Shafiq refusing to score till a message from the dressing room forced him to look for some runs. Even then, he managed 26 from 94 and ultimately ran out Taufeeq, ironically refusing a sharp single to a man who had been on the field for all three days.

That was the only way the immoveable Taufeeq could have got out, but not before Sri Lanka had been deflated. Their nightmare was complete when Paranavitana went immediately. Kumar Sangakkara and Lahiru Thirimanne were positive, though, as they got through 11 overs without further damage.

Abhishek Purohit is an editorial assistant at ESPNcricinfo

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