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Azhar's century puts Pakistan on top

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CRICKET / Sangakkara, tailenders help Sri Lanka reach 239

A PERSONAL LANDMARK: Azhar Ali was in good nick, hitting nine boundaries, while making his maiden Test hundred. — Photo: AFP
A PERSONAL LANDMARK: Azhar Ali was in good nick, hitting nine boundaries, while making his maiden Test hundred. — Photo: AFP

Talented Azhar Ali finally got his maiden Test century as Pakistan piled the pressure on Sri Lanka on the second day of the second Test here on Thursday.

A three-figure score had eluded the 26-year-old right-hander in the last 14 Tests, but he finally reached the mark in the closing stages to guide Pakistan to a dominating 281 for four in reply to Sri Lanka's first innings total of 239.

Fruitful stands

Azhar, the only bright spot from last year's fixing-marred tour of England, put on 117 for the third wicket with Younis Khan (55) and 94 for the fourth wicket with skipper Misbah-ul Haq (40 batting).

Azhar fell for 100 in the penultimate over of the day, leaving Misbah and nightwatchman Saeed Ajmal at the crease.

Surviving two confident leg-before shouts against paceman Suranga Lakmal, Azhar straight drove the same bowler to reach 96. When he was on 98, Azhar miscued a sweep off left-arm spinner Rangana Herath but got the much-needed two runs and a well-deserved century.

Azhar's partnerships with Younis and Misbah helped Pakistan overcome the early loss of openers Taufiq Umar (27) and Mohammad Hafeez (33) to Sri Lankan paceman Dhammika Prasad, who finished the day with two for 73.

Younis's distinction

Younis, when he reached 17, crossed Salim Malik's aggregate of 5768 (103 Tests) to become the fourth highest run-getter for Pakistan behind Javed Miandad (8832 in 104 Tests), Inzamam-ul Haq (8829 in 119) and Mohammad Yousuf (7530 in 90).

Younis hit Dilshan over deep mid-wicket boundary for a six to complete his 26th half-century, but played on off the same bowler in the next over. His 55 also included two boundaries.

Pakistan, resuming at 42 for no loss, was pegged back by Lakmal who bowled a lively spell but was unfortunate to see a couple of chances go abegging. On the first day, Pakistan bowled and fielded well to bowl Sri Lanka out for 239.

Paceman Umar Gul (three for 78) did the early damage in the company of Junaid Khan (two for 57) before the spinners Saeed Ajmal (three for 45) and Abdul Rehman (two for 40) completed the job on a bouncy pitch.

Lanka, which chose to bat, slumped to 30 for three and 154 for eight despite a valiant 78 from Kumar Sangakkara. However, a ninth wicket stand of 75 between Chanaka Welegedara (48) and Rangana Herath (29) lifted the team past the 200-mark.

Sangakkara hit 11 fours and added a valuable 54 for the sixth wicket with debutant Kaushal Silva (20). Sangakkara looked set for another century before he lost his concentration, jumped down the track and hoisted Rehman straight into the hands of deep mid-wicket fielder Asad Shafiq. — AFP

Sri Lanka — 1st innings: T. Paranavitana c Misbah b Gul 6, L. Thirimanne lbw b Gul 1, K. Sangakkara c Shafiq b Rehman 78, M. Jayawardene c Misbah b Gul 6, T. Dilshan c Misbah b Junaid 7, A. Mathews c A. Akmal b Junaid 19, K. Silva lbw b Rehman 20, D. Prasad c A. Akmal b Ajmal 7, R. Herath c Younis b Ajmal 29, C. Welegedara st. A. Akmal b Ajmal 48, S. Lakmal (not out) 0; Extras (b-5, lb-7, nb-6): 18; Total (in 79 overs): 239.

Fall of wickets: 1-3, 2-24, 3-30, 4-45, 5-73, 6-127, 7-154, 8-154, 9-229.

Pakistan bowling: Gul 19-2-78-3, Junaid 15-2-57-2, Ajmal 26-9-45-3, Rehman 17-5-40-2, Hafeez 2-0-7-0.

Pakistan — 1st innings: Mohd. Hafeez lbw b Prasad 33, T. Umar c Silva b Prasad 27, Azhar Ali lbw b Dilshan 100, Younis b Dilshan 55, Misbah (batting) 40, S. Ajmal (batting) 5; Extras (b-6, lb-10, nb-3, w-2): 21; Total (for four wkts. in 99 overs): 281.

Fall of wickets: 1-63, 2-64, 3-181, 4-275.

Sri Lanka bowling: Welegedara 20-4-50-0, Prasad 20-1-73-2, Herath 23-3-56-0, Lakmal 20-7-38-0, Dilshan 16-1-48-2 .

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