Sri Lanka v Pakistan, 2nd Test, SSC, Colombo, 2nd day

Azhar Ali leads Pakistan progress on rain-hit day

The Report by Sidharth Monga

July 1, 2012

Comments: 25 | Text size: A | A

Pakistan 488 for 4 (Hafeez 196, Ali 157, Herath 2-143) v Sri Lanka
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Azhar Ali celebrates his century, his second against Sri Lanka, Sri Lanka v Pakistan, 2nd Test, SSC, Colombo, 2nd day, 1 July, 2012
Azhar Ali gets the hundred, and makes it a big one © Getty Images
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The Colombo weather hurt Pakistan's push for a result, allowing only 44.2 overs on the second day, during which the visitors added 154 for 3 to their overnight 334. It could have been worse for Pakistan after the slow start they made to the day, but their batsmen showed more urgency as the clouds gathered.

Azhar Ali might have slowed down in the 90s, but he made up for it through some urgent accumulation after the mark even as rain and Rangana Herath countered the progress. Mohammad Hafeez fell four short of what would have been a maiden double, and Younis Khan continued to provide a case for DRS. Herath bowled a 23-overs spell - 20 of them today - to provide Sri Lanka some sort of control.

Ali, who specialises in scoring inconspicuously, remained the centre of attention on the second day. He spent 45 balls in the 90s, but scored 54 off the next 75 balls he faced, once again through ones and twos, almost unnoticed. This was the first time since the infamous Karachi Test of 2008-09 that two Pakistan batsmen reached 150 in the same innings. The two men, Hafeez and Ali, also put together the highest partnership against Sri Lanka in Sri Lanka - 287.

Ali faced eight dots each on 98 and 99 as Hafeez added 24 to his overnight 172 while Ali moved from 92 to 99. Hafeez seemed bent on beating Ali to the landmark, but missed with a slog to a Herath delivery that was fuller than expected. As the ball hit the leg stump, Herath avoided conceding 100 runs without a wicket, something he has been guilty of only once in his career.

Ali wasn't to be ruffled, though. He remained patient, waited till the field came up, and went after one wide delivery to go from 99 to 103, his second century against Sri Lanka. That boundary was the morning's 37th run in 14.2 overs, and it didn't owe to the conditions, which were about as friendly as on day one. Nuwan Kulasekara once beat the edge, and Herath got one to spin past the edge, but that was about all the assistance the bowlers received on the second morning. There was an obligatory outside edge that fell well short.

Ali steadily picked up the pace after reaching his hundred even as Younis Khan felt his way into the innings. An afternoon shower then forced the lunch break 12 minutes before schedule. The rain cost about an hour and 32 minutes of play after which Pakistan were decidedly more urgent. Mahela Jayawardene interestingly didn't go for pace to make umpires wonder if they should walk off in gloomy conditions.

Against Herath's spin and Angelo Mathews' medium-pace, both Ali and Younis relished. Pakistan added 84 in 18 overs after the break; they had scored 70 in the 26.2 overs before it. Neither of the two had to play a shot in anger as Sri Lanka operated with fields resembling middle overs in an ODI. After a slow start, Younis was approaching the 50-strike-rate when he was given lbw on 32 even though he was hit outside the line of off, the third dodgy decision against him in three innings. One of these days he might break his Provident Fund to pay for the technology required for DRS in matches involving Pakistan.

Ali continued smoothly, and duly reached his 150 with a dink down the ground even as Misbah-ul-Haq improvised at the other end. When Ali tried the same, he top-edged a reverse-sweep to fall for 157, equalling his personal best. It was as if the elements didn't like Herath's removal after a spell today of 20-2-57-2. A few overs after he was taken off, the rain arrived again, forcing players to take tea 20 minutes before the rescheduled break at 3.40pm.

Persistent drizzle meant it was the end of the day's play too. An overnight declaration might sound a stretch, but wasn't completely an outlandish idea given how the track shows signs of life only in the morning session.

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by Sinhaya on (July 2, 2012, 17:26 GMT)

@WickyRoy.paklover, Younis is a great batsman no doubt. At Galle in the first essay he was struggling, no denying. Ok if DRS was there, Sanga would have played on and we would have scored 350 and Pakistan probably would have posted say 200. Then we would have piled on 250 in the 2nd dig and still had a total good enough to win. Even if Younis succeeded in the first essay, he would have run short of partners meaning he could well have been stranded on 80 not out. Yes I recall Younis posting 300 plus in Karachi in 2009 in a dead pitch where Mahela and Thilan Samaraweera also excelled. Anyway, just to tell you that late next year as per the FTP we have a tour of Pakistan (venue not sure) and that may be time for you all to excel in home conditions.

Posted by javed.agrawala on (July 2, 2012, 8:56 GMT)

DRS is the way forward! Pakistan batting is weak and they do well only on flat beds. The likes of Hafeez and Misbah struggle/will continue to struggle in England etc and wherever the ball does something!

What a tragedy for cricket..... such lifeless pitches where average batting line-ups such as Pakistan's, make over 500 so easily. Sri Lanka, great cricketing nation that it is, has been unfortunately defensive in protecting its lead. 5 days of boring cricket is what this is resulting in to, unless the pitch crumbles that is! In this scenario a sudden death series would have been better. Why waste time after a lead is taken!

BTW way I am a Pakistani cricket fan but love cricket more than the Pakistani brand alone, Ajmal excepted. This cricket is back to the days when pitches were prepared to draw matches!

Lastly but most importantly let the great Indian batting pile up the runs any which way they wish (DRS bar including), if in their opinion it befits them and cricket in general!

Posted by   on (July 2, 2012, 4:46 GMT)

It is amazing that Mahela and Marvan who have played so much cricket at the SSC won the toss and decided to bowl on a placid pitch with only 4 specialist bowlers one of whom is a rookie fast bowler.If they atleast had another specialist spinner of some variety it would have been helpful.Now Sri Lanka have a massive task of avoiding defeat thanks to this big blunder of fielding first.Lets see how Sri Lanka cope with this situation of atleast lasting the next couple of days without embarrassment to themselves.

Posted by EverybodylovesSachin on (July 2, 2012, 4:44 GMT)

Boring..why don't they play 10 twenty games in 5 days..more fun..Mahela will score another 300 on this his favourite ground and in the world nobody has scored more runs on any ground than Mahela on this ground..

Posted by WickyRoy.paklover on (July 2, 2012, 3:19 GMT)

@SINHAYA,WEL takng nthng away 4rm lankans when they won 6 tests against pak in pak bt my friend can't u expect younis to play sanga like ining in ist pak's ining in gale.YOUNIS z öne of bst test batsman around nowadays n he z big ining playr,pls check his stats against ur team n team india,he z always proven to b bug bear,n what about taufiq's record against sl? My point z only 2 to 3 batsmen click most of time 4rm pak n they can put a decent score by virtue of ths.Remembr younis was benifitd 4rm 50.50 dcisn against dilshan's catch n u can see score line boasting to 300 aftr 50 for 4

Posted by Ameega on (July 2, 2012, 2:41 GMT)

It is so unfortunate to see weather playing a role here. SL should be tested against a really massive score in Sri Lanka. Would have been a great challenge and would make the last test very interesting. Both SL and Pak fans are unlucky in this case.

Posted by pak78 on (July 2, 2012, 2:10 GMT)

faiz butcher well said he is the true gentalman of the game always a smile on his face has been absalutley robbed by the umpires mistakes happen once or even twice not three times please have drs universal in all international matches and its up to the icc 2 fund it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!.

Posted by Sinhaya on (July 2, 2012, 0:30 GMT)

@Syed_imran_abbas and WickyRoy.paklover, surely did n't you all see the half hearted nervous way the Pakistanis batted in Galle? They looked clueless against Herath. Even if umpires gave them reprieves it always looked liked a wicket was to fall off the bowling of Herath. Please please remember that before 2008 August, plenty of umpiring howlers would have existed in tests as no DRS existed back then. You all know very well that Sri Lanka has beaten Pakistan 6 times in test matches in Pakistan unlike India managing only 2 test wins in Pakistan over many decades. So could those 6 test wins we managed in Pakistan be due to umpiring howlers? No no we were the clear winners in Galle and Sangakkara was destined to excel as he never got any reprieve.

Posted by   on (July 1, 2012, 22:32 GMT)

What a luck YOUNUS KHAN is having in this series hw can he improve his ranking if umpire keep gaving him out like that he looks in good form but amp coming in his way I feel sorry for him three innings and three wrong desition against him the man who keep always smile on his face looks down and out because of umpires

Posted by yoongguns on (July 1, 2012, 22:30 GMT)

Both Srilanka and Pakistan jave no budget for DRs, is the only reason......

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