Pakistan v Sri Lanka, 3rd Test, Sharjah, 3rd day November 5, 2011

Younis century leads Pakistan resistance


Pakistan 282 for 6 (Younis 122, Azhar 53, Misbah 50*) trail Sri Lanka 413 by 131 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Pakistan gave yet another demonstration of how far they have progressed from their collapse-prone avatar of recent years by posting a solid 282 for 6 on the third day of the final Test in Sharjah. The three middle-order batsmen instrumental in providing steel to the Pakistan line-up over the past year all made substantial contributions on a track which was truer than expected. Younis Khan made the biggest impact by going on to his 18th Test century, Azhar Ali collected his sixth 50-plus score in five Tests and Misbah-ul-Haq helped himself to another laboriously crafted half-century.

With the Pakistan openers dismissed on Friday, when the pitch was providing plenty of turn and bounce, Sri Lanka would have expected their bowlers to be a handful in the morning. Instead, they had the bad news that fast bowler Dhammika Prasad wouldn't bowl in the match due to a thigh strain. The other medium-pacers Chanaka Welegedara and Kosala Kulasekara bowled at a gentle pace, and got some movement to induce a few plays-and-misses from the batsmen but weren't able to prise out a wicket.

Every time they strayed, Pakistan's batsmen capitalised. It was one of those loose deliveries that helped Pakistan end a series of nine successive maidens as Azhar slashed a short and wide ball from Kulasekara past cover to get Pakistan going in the morning. Most of his six boundaries came when the quicks either drifted on to the pads or provided him plenty of width.

After their slow start, Azhar and Younis stepped up the pace to put together one of the most productive batting sessions of the Test. Younis consumed 30 deliveries before getting off the mark, but was full of positive intent after that. There was no better sign of his growing confidence than his big grin after muscling Rangana Herath for a one-bounce four over extra cover midway through the morning session. His innings showcased his mastery of the sweep shot - the paddle sweep, the slog-sweep and the reverse-sweep were all used effectively against the spinners.

The second session began with Herath bowling well outside leg stump, trying to get some turn out of the rough. That did produce a leading edge off Younis, but there were no major alarms and the tactic only helped to stifle the runs. Kulasekara, forced off the field in the morning due to a bloodied thumb after a botched fielding effort, returned to produce the breakthrough Sri Lanka were desperately seeking, getting a ball to snake in sharply to beat Azhar's bat and crash into off stump.

That brought in Misbah-ul-Haq, who was extremely watchful, even by his own leisurely standards, laboriously making his way to 2 off 52 deliveries. Younis, though, showed he couldn't be restrained, sashaying down the track to launch Herath over long-on for a boundary. Even though Misbah was in his shell, Younis produced the most profitable over of the day for Pakistan, paddling Suraj Randiv from outside off for four, before clubbing him over deep square leg for a six. His only moment of concern in the session was when he was hit on the helmet by a throw from mid-off as he completed a tight single.

It was a race against the clock to reach his century before tea, and he managed to get there in the final over of the session, pushing the ball to cover to zip through for a single. He continued to be aggressive against the spinners after reaching his hundred, but the second new ball accounted for him. The first delivery after the ball was changed bent in sharply, beating his bat and taking off stump.

By then, Misbah was being a bit more expansive, and he guided Pakistan towards stumps. Asad Shafiq hit a couple of boundaries in an otherwise watchful innings that ended on 16 when he feathered Welegedara to the keeper.

The two relatively quick wickets perked up Sri Lanka, and they almost had the crucial one of Misbah as well soon after when he attempted a swipe to midwicket. That resulted in a top-edge which flew over the slips and Misbah survived. Adnan Akmal, though, couldn't make it to stumps as he was undone by Herath, who got the ball to hold its line after the previous delivery had spun away. Adnan didn't read it and was trapped lbw.

Despite those late wickets, it was a satisfying day for Pakistan as they bettered their chances of averting defeat, and winning the series - the sort of news their fans await after a dark week for Pakistan cricket.

Siddarth Ravindran is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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  • Dummy4 on November 6, 2011, 4:57 GMT

    Test 11- Dilshan , Tharanga, Sanga, Mahela, Thilan(C), Chandimal(wk), mathews (VC), , Eranga, Herath, Welagedara, Ajantha Mendis

    ODI 11- Dilshan, Tharanga(C), Chandimal(wk), Sanga, Mahela, Mathews(vc), J. Mendis, Tissara/Randiv, Eranga, A.mendis, Malinga,

    T20 11- Dishan, Mahela, Chandimal(wk), Sanga, Mathews (c), Kapu, Tissara, Randiv, Eranga, Malinga (vc), A. Mendis.

  • Dummy4 on November 6, 2011, 2:18 GMT

    pak lower order is weak coz of adnan n shafiq bring back umar n kamran akmal to strenthen their btting lineup....

  • Kirkwood on November 6, 2011, 1:51 GMT

    I truly hate Sri Lanka's brand of cricket. Any match involving them is utter boredom to watch.

  • Dummy4 on November 6, 2011, 0:45 GMT

    Batsmen of both teams have played ultra-defensively on a placid pitch.Patting back ball after ball in copybook fashion may provide material for coaching manuals but will surely accelerate Test cricket's demise. I can understand Pakistan playing for a draw but Sri Lanka needed to play aggressively from the get-go to have any chance of squaring the series. It's not too late.there are still 6 sessions to go.

  • zayan on November 5, 2011, 23:22 GMT

    Ii like Younis Khan except when he's captain. I can't believe Pakistan hid Misbah's talent for 20 years when they could've been using it.

  • ilyas on November 5, 2011, 22:31 GMT

    I have followed Pakistan for a long time and seen the highs (a few) and the lows (very many!) but in all that time they have never been boring. The heart always beat faster when Pakistan were playing - especially in England as they were always the baddies!

    This Pakistan side has done well over the last year but they are so boring. I know after the last few years Pakistan cricket needs a period of calm but watching the team bat today, especially Misbah, made me yearn for the days when we had fiery cricketers who excited you and made you dream of being like them. In this side there is not a single cricketer I would pay to watch. I never thought I would ever say this but "bring back Shahid Afridi!!"

  • Taj on November 5, 2011, 20:41 GMT

    Pakistan played well today especially Younis. We suffered only Misbah's batting today, imagine if T Umar was batting as well. I have no idea why the coaches tell batsmen to bat slow. Batting out time does not win matches, as we have seen in 1st Test, They need to score run as well. Very poor tactic by Pakistan. They have been winning odd test but they could win more if they play positive, their bowlers have been doing excellent job. It will be a draw.

  • Dummy4 on November 5, 2011, 20:21 GMT

    I think Azhar Ali should open in tests with Hafeez ,One down should be Mohammad Yousaf, Younis khan and Misbah to follow and then asad shafique, keeper and4 bowlers

  • khurram on November 5, 2011, 19:58 GMT

    @prbath neranja : can u plz chk cric info comentry for the 3rd day and notify here the overs where younas got 2 chances due to poor umpiring?

  • shahid on November 5, 2011, 19:28 GMT

    Pakistans fortune changer is called Azhar Ali. Since he came in and started scoring in almost every match, everything goes in the right direction. one down is such a crucial spot that it determins course of a batting innings. One thing pakistan is missing is right hand leg spin.

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