2nd Test

Sri Lanka v Pakistan, 2012

Sa'adi Thawfeeq

At Colombo (SSC), June 30-July 4, 2012. Drawn.
Toss: Sri Lanka.

Mohammad Hafeez and Azhar Ali put on the highest second-wicket stand against Sri Lanka, Sri Lanka v Pakistan, 2nd Test, SSC, Colombo, 1st day, June 30, 2012
Mohammad Hafeez and Azhar Ali's 287-run stand was the highest second-wicket partnership made against Sri Lanka © AFP
Related Links
Tour and tournament reports : Sri Lanka v Pakistan, 2012
Series/Tournaments: Pakistan tour of Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka nearly paid the price for inviting Pakistan to bat on a placid track, and were lucky to escape with the draw that preserved their series lead. Mahela Jayawardene made no attempt to deny his miscalculation. "It was a gamble in a way, but not a very good one," he admitted. The only mitigation, he argued, was that rain - which skimmed the equivalent of a day and a half - prevented the pitch from taking on a fifth-day complexion.

Jayawardene's generosity was gleefully accepted by Pakistan, desperate for a route back into the series; they went on to compile a massive 551 for six declared. It was not entirely Sri Lanka's fault they conceded so many: the nature of the pitch betrayed them a little. The Sinhalese Sports Club is generally helpful to seamers in the first session, but this wicket offered scarcely any movement or bounce, and after an hour's play Sri Lanka must have known they had a fight on their hands to save the Test.

The only success before lunch on the first day came when Taufeeq Umar edged Mathews to wicketkeeper Prasanna Jayawardene, standing up. There was one other nick, which fell short of second slip; another ball beat the outside edge. The usually sedate Taufeeq had plundered 65 out of an opening stand of 78 with Mohammad Hafeez, and Pakistan went on to score 300 in a day for the first time in 23 Tests stretching back to January 2010.

Hafeez, woefully short on runs, pressed on to a career-best 196 before Herath finally broke through his defence. He was so calm and composed that he barely drew attention to himself during seven hours and seven minutes at the crease. Meanwhile, Azhar Ali, whose 157 equalled his previous best, against England in February, blunted the attack with an array of strokes through an apparently well-set off-side field. Hafeez and Azhar put on 287 - the highest for any visiting team in Sri Lanka - but Pakistan's charge was halted by rain, which allowed only 44.2 overs on the second day. In that time, Younis Khan's rotten luck continued: he was struck outside the line by Herath, but given out by Simon Taufel; for the third time in three innings, the DRS would have reprieved him.

Misbah-ul-Haq, returning as captain after his one-match over-rate ban, passed up the opportunity to declare overnight on 488, choosing another hour of quick runs on the third morning instead. But it was clear Pakistan would be battling the weather to bowl Sri Lanka out twice in the remaining eight and a half sessions. The prospect nosedived further in the course of a 225-run stand for the second wicket between Dilshan and Sangakkara, who each scored centuries between the rain breaks. Either side of their efforts, four others made ducks; Mahela Jayawardene's was his first on the ground where he holds the record for most Test runs at any single venue. Saeed Ajmal found the going tough: no Pakistan bowler had bowled as many as 34 overs in an innings without a maiden before.

Sangakkara again missed out on a double-century, this time by eight runs, when he charged Abdur Rehman and slapped to midwicket. He became the second man in Test cricket, after Mohammad Yousuf, to finish in the 190s on three separate occasions. But by then he had gone past Don Bradman to 30 Test centuries. Nine had come against Pakistan, beating Aravinda de Silva's world record of eight against them; in the same innings, he passed Sunil Gavaskar's 2,089 Test runs against Pakistan, another record.

Dilshan escaped several ungainly slashes and nicks to reach 121, at which point he became the eighth Sri Lankan to 5,000 Test runs. In the next over, he was lbw to Junaid Khan, in the same spirited burst of old-ball bowling which claimed Jayawardene and briefly enlivened the Test. Junaid steamed in from round the wicket and found reverse swing towards the end of the fourth day, but once Sangakkara and Mathews had guided Sri Lanka beyond the follow-on mark, there was little hope of a Pakistan win.

Man of the Match: Junaid Khan.

Close of play: first day, Pakistan 334-1 (Mohammad Hafeez 172, Azhar Ali 92); second day, Pakistan 488-4 (Misbah-ul-Haq 29, Asad Shafiq 1); third day, Sri Lanka 70-1 (Dilshan 46, Sangakkara 22); fourth day, Sri Lanka 278-5 (Sangakkara 144).

© John Wisden & Co.