Umar century powers Pakistan
Abu Dhabi: A patient, unbeaten century by Pakistan's opening batsman Taufeeq Umar and half-centuries by Mohammad Hafeez and Azhar Ali ground Sri Lanka into submission on the second day of the first Test in Abu Dhabi Wednesday.
At close of play Pakistan were 259 for the loss of one wicket, with Umar on 109 not out and Ali on 60 not out, a lead of 62 runs.
Much was expected from Sri Lanka's three-pronged pace attack of Chanaka Welegedera, Suranga Lakmal and birthday-boy and debutant Nuwan Pradeep, but with little help from the pitch and a resolute display by openers Umar and Hafeez followed by an unbroken stand between Umar and Ali, they find themselves very much on the back foot.
Earlier in the morning it was Hafeez who showed a little more enterprise while Umar, enjoying a good run following his comeback to the Test side last year after a four-year gap, was more circumspect. Runs came at a brisk pace and the 50 was up after 11 overs, Pakistan negotiating the morning session without much trouble.
In an opening stand of 100, Hafeez contributed 63 while Umar was on 30 and as the former looked set for his fourth Test hundred. But, when he was on 75, Rangana Herath, the only bowler who looked like taking a wicket, trapped Hafeez and a handful of Sri Lankan supporters had something to cheer. Hafeez hit one six off Herath and eight boundaries.
Umar, who has scored one century against the West Indies since he made his comeback, finished unbeaten in a knock with two contrasting halves. While in his first 50 he just had three boundaries and he meandered along until 83 without another hit to the rope, his later runs saw him speed away to his century with four quick boundaries.
A late cut off Welegedara was followed by another hit to the fence off Lakmal and Umar moved to 91. He followed that with another boundary off Lakmal's next over, this time steering the paceman to reach 95. A steeply rising no ball was dispatched to the fence with a stylish cut and a single off the next ball helped him to his sixth century, the most by a Pakistani opening batsman since Saeed Anwar.
However, Umar is lucky to still be there as he got away with an inside edge off Welegedera when he was on 102 and two more boundaries saw him finish the day on 119 not out.
The 26-year-old Ali had an early reprieve when Jayawardene dropped him off Herath when on seven but soon settled down and finished on 60 not out. Umar and Ali have so put on 141 runs in their unbroken stand and it was the latter's 10th half-century. With the wicket playing easy, Ali now has a good chance to register his maiden Test hundred and, along with Umar, put Pakistan in a winning position.
Sri Lanka 1st innings: 197
Pakistan 1st innings:
Mohammad Hafeez lbw b Herath 75
Tawfiq Umar not out 109
Azhar Ali not out 60
Extras: (3b, 12nb) 15
TOTAL: (for one wicket) 259
Fall of wickets: 1-118.
To bat: Younus Khan, Misbah-ul-Haq, Asad Shafiq, Adnan Akmal, Umar Gul, Saeed Ajmal, Aizaz Cheema, Junaid Khan.
Bowling: Chanaka Welegedara 16-1-56-0 (7nb), Suranga Lakmal 13-3-58-0 (2nb), Rangana Herath 35-10-55-1, Nuwan Pradeep 15-0-57-0 (3nb), Tillakaratne Dilshan 19-6-30-0.
Umpires: Rod Tucker, Australia, and Tony Hill, New Zealand.
Third umpire: Ahsan Raza, Pakistan. Match referee: David Boon, Australia.