Pakistan v Sri Lanka, 2nd Test, Dubai, 2nd day January 9, 2014

Mahela hundred strengthens Sri Lanka


Sri Lanka 318 for 4 (Mahela 106*, Silva 95) lead Pakistan 165 (Manzoor 73, Pradeep 3-62, Herath 3-26) by 153 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Mahela Jayawardene and Kaushal Silva did not put on a show - there weren't many people at the stadium to entertain anyway - but their exercise in restraint, self-preservation and gradual accumulation was exactly what Sri Lanka needed to consolidate the advantage earned by their fast bowlers on the first day. Silva fell five short of a maiden century and Jayawardene left his sublime shots on the shelf until the final session, when he was his usual hard-to-contain self and reached his first hundred in ten Tests to give Sri Lanka a strong chance of a series lead.

Pakistan's fast bowlers did not err too much in their line and length, but the sizeable seam movement that had played a prominent role in undoing their batsmen was nowhere to be seen on the second day. Saeed Ajmal operated with parsimony, but Pakistan needed incisiveness to defend their total of 165, and his spell of 27-9-45-0 extended his wicket drought to 76 overs. Sri Lanka had lost two batsmen to injudicious shots early in the first session to slip to 88 for 3, but Silva and Mahela applied themselves to produce a 139-run stand that spanned 51.2 overs and ended only after tea.

Mahela's pace was Sri Lanka's pace today. He scored 19 off 49 balls in the first session; Sri Lanka made 75. Between lunch and tea, Mahela added 31 off 85; Sri Lanka's total grew by 83. And in the final session, against the second new ball, Mahela took 56 off 96 to help Sri Lanka score 103. The split webbing he had suffered while fielding at slip did not seem to hinder him and Mahela got to his century late in the day by square cutting Bilawal Bhatti, the debutant who had dismissed him twice in the Abu Dhabi Test, to the boundary.

The gains Sri Lanka made after tea were a result wearing Pakistan down over the first two sessions. The unbroken 91-run stand for the fifth wicket between Mahela and Angelo Mathews would not have happened had Sarfaraz Ahmed not dropped the Sri Lanka captain on 5, diving to his right with one hand when he could have got to the ball with both. Mathews scored briskly after that, finishing the day on 42 at a strike rate of 50.

Their position at stumps - 318 for 4 and ahead by 153 - was as good as Sri Lanka could have expected when they began the day on 57 for 1. But they so nearly tripped. After three early boundaries, Kumar Sangakkara leaned across to flick a delivery that angled into him from Rahat Ali and fell over to be lbw. Dinesh Chandimal came in ahead of Mahela but did not bat with the composure that had helped Sri Lanka save the first Test. Junaid Khan sent down a bouncer that was above eye level, Chandimal hooked instinctively and was caught by Rahat at long leg. He had been dismissed in exactly the same fashion in the second innings in Abu Dhabi.

Unlike Pakistan, however, Sri Lanka's stumble ended there. Silva and Mahela defended competently and left well outside off, while also putting away loose balls. Mahela played the shot of the morning when he got down on one knee and slog-swept Ajmal to the midwicket boundary. Those were the only runs Ajmal conceded in his first five overs and his day got steadily worse.

Early in the second session, Silva pulled Ajmal to the boundary to bring up his fifty off 133 balls. The afternoon, however, contained a few moments of uncertainty for Sri Lanka. An uppish flick from Silva fell just short of Khurram Manzoor at square leg, Mahela was beaten by the odd doosra from Ajmal and then successfully overturned an lbw decision against Rahat because the ball had pitched marginally outside leg stump.

Those deliveries were memorable because there were so few of them and soon Silva cut and drove Rahat for two boundaries in three deliveries to move into the 70s. Shortly before the tea break though, Misbah-ul-Haq gave Mohammad Hafeez a bowl for the first time and Mahela took a risk. He charged and tried to loft down the ground and Pakistan watched as the mis-hit fell agonisingly out of reach of the fielder running back from long-on.

It was Hafeez who denied Silva his hundred soon after tea, when the opener swept and was hit on the pad and given lbw. He chose to review, perhaps because he was so close to a major landmark, but replays confirmed the umpire's decision. Hafeez had struck in his fourth over, while Ajmal had been wicketless all day.

Sri Lanka's lead was only 65 when Silva fell, and given the long tail, Pakistan had the chance to limit damage if they took a couple of quick wickets. Rahat drew the edge from Mathews, but Sarfaraz grassed the ball. There were no more opportunities for Misbah's men.

George Binoy is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Nilantha on January 10, 2014, 8:36 GMT

    Rangana strikes early..i am sure he will get more in this down nine to go..go Sri Lanka..

  • santhosh on January 10, 2014, 8:29 GMT

    Well played SL...awesome display of batsmanship and character shown by SL team both in first and the second test match...SL All set to a big win here...congrats and best of luck guys...well played are a class act..

  • Quamar on January 10, 2014, 8:24 GMT

    I like Khurram Manzoor's approach, he just seems to have the right attitude. More than anything he seems to really care, which is not ubiquitous. I think this opening partnership could stand us in good stead for the future...

  • Amila on January 10, 2014, 8:16 GMT

    @ VKohlitheGreat LOL South Africans barely managed to win one match in SL last year ODI series went 4-1 in favour of Sri Lankans. First check the stats before commenting.

  • Quamar on January 10, 2014, 8:15 GMT

    Good bowling effort from Pak, with the spin master chipping in but credit to Rahat and Junaid. If Pak can match the Sri Lanka score they can win with the spin magician working his magic in the 4th. Time for the Pak batting order to stand up. All results are possible but I have a feeling Pak's batting line up will finally deliver...

  • Ajith on January 10, 2014, 8:01 GMT

    SL just throwing their wickets away.66 runs and 6 wickets have fallen in this session. Good comeback by Pakistan. Now SL bowlers will have to capture the Pakistan wickets early to make a strong impact.

  • tanveer on January 10, 2014, 7:59 GMT

    Sri Lankans should be very proud of their team, they are all set to crush Pakistan on Pakistans home ground. Pakistani team is full of spineless, gutless, toothless, sissies. The PCBs stupidity always leads to pathetic performances. Even India C Team or Under 19 team can thrash this current Pakistan team any day, any place, any format.

  • santhosh on January 10, 2014, 7:35 GMT

    @ mzm149: You talk abt Indian bowling....did you ever thought of Pak batting?? as far am concerned Ind bowling and Pak batting are same..both are pathetic at its guys should be grateful to Misbah, he single handedly saved your team many embarrassment...for that I have great respect for him....good luck to both the teams...

  • Charth on January 10, 2014, 7:00 GMT

    Sri Lanka intend improvisation to the cricket, Talk about Murali, Talk about hitting runs in first 15 overs, talk about Doosra, Talk about slow yokers, talk about slow bouncers, talk about carom balls, talk about dil's scoop, talk about all format highest scores, ODI, T20, TEST all format. there's no argue that we make impact on international cricket.

    So All the hate speeches, critics & all the blames will be encourage for us and it will be really a blessing for us so we know all the people afraid of little Sri Lanka. :) Yes! they make themselves a name as a world class cricketing team no doubt about that and we are really really happy and overjoyed about that.

    Thank You, People, Peaceful Sri Lankan Fan who appreciate someone's talent as a human being.

  • Jimmy on January 10, 2014, 6:38 GMT

    @VKohlitheGreat. Enjoyed reading your comments today, praising Mahela despite fans of each country sharing bitter remarks about their teams etc etc. Thanks!

  • No featured comments at the moment.