Khan & Misbah centuries spur Pakistan to 327-4 for a lead of 123 against Sri Lanka in 1st test

By Rizwan Ali

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates — Pakistan rode on centuries by Younis Khan and captain Misbah-ul-Haq to finish the second day of the first test on a healthy 327-4 and 123-run lead against Sri Lanka on Wednesday.

Khan hit 19 fours and a six in his 23rd test century, an unblemished 136 off 198 balls, before he was bowled off an inside edge off Shaminda Eranga (2-63). Misbah ground out an unbeaten 105 off 250 balls with 13 fours and will resume the third day with Asad Shafiq unbeaten on 12.

Misbah’s and Khan’s 218-run stand in 4 1/4 hours has placed Sri Lanka in a tight corner as their bowlers struggled to contain Pakistan’s two most experienced batsmen.

Sri Lanka twice missed dismissing Misbah on 69 when Mahela Jayawardene dropped a sitter, and on 76 they didn’t go for a TV referral when fast bowler Suranga Lakmal (1-84) could have earned an lbw verdict after onfield umpire Richard Kettleborough of England turned down a strong appeal.

Sri Lanka started off well by claiming two wickets inside the first hour but took only one more wicket in the day as Khan and Misbah ensured Pakistan took a sizeable lead against Sri Lanka’s 204-run first innings effort.

“We lost back-to-back wickets so it was needed to hang on there as senior players and we did that exactly,” Khan said.

Misbah completed his fifth test century soon after Khan was dismissed when he drove offspinner Sachithra Senananyake to mid-on for a single.

Earlier, Sri Lanka had the wickets of Mohammad Hafeez (11) and Ahmed Shehzad (38) soon after Pakistan resumed from 46-1 overnight, but then Misbah and Khan took charge.

Both batsmen guided Pakistan to 121-3 by lunch before they cut loose by scoring 130 runs in the second session with the pitch considerably easing for batting.

Khan completed his half century off 100 balls with nine fours when he hit fast bowler Suranga Lakmal for two boundaries in one over. Misbah, who finished last year as top-scorer in one-day internationals, hit identical fours and faced a similar number of deliveries to complete his 50.

Misbah survived a leg before wicket television referral off Rangana Herath on 48 as the replays clearly suggested the ball got a faint inside edge of the Pakistan captain’s bat before hitting the pads.

Khan upped the scoring tempo and led Pakistan past Sri Lanka’s total when he lofted Herath over long on for a big six as he dominated Sri Lanka’s premier left-arm spinner.

“He tried his best but the problem is that he has just joined the team, but I think he tried well and will be better in the next games,” Khan said of Herath, who didn’t compete in the one-day series last month after his mother died.

Khan equaled Pakistan great Javed Miandad’s number of test centuries when he cover drove Herath to the cover boundary just before tea as he raised his second 50 off only 47 deliveries. Khan trails only Mohammad Yousuf (24) and Inzamam-ul-Haq (25) on Pakistan’s list of leading test centurions.

Earlier, Pakistan added 75 in the first session but lost the wickets of Hafeez and Shehzad through some smart field placings by Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews.

Hafeez was brilliantly caught one-handed by a diving Kaushal Silva at short cover after he started well by hitting two straight boundaries off Lakmal, 1-66.

Hafeez forced his way back into the test 11 ahead of test specialist Azhar Ali after hitting three centuries in last month’s 3-2 victory in the one-day series against Sri Lanka.

He showed a glimpse of that form before going for an extravagant drive and Silva dived in time to pluck the catch inches off the ground.

Eranga then frustrated Shehzad with some tidy swing bowling, and the Pakistan opener was undone by a short delivery and offered a simple catch to short fine leg before Sri Lanka could get just one more wicket.

“Our fast bowlers have not played test cricket for a long time … unfortunately their two batsmen played exceptionally well to neutralize our efforts,” Sri Lanka coach Graham Ford said of his team’s effort in their first test since March.

09:43ET 01-01-14

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