By Champika Fernando
Sri Lanka were at the receiving end of brilliant batting and the fury of Mother Nature as Pakistan piled up runs with ease on a rain curtailed second day’s play of the second cricket Test here at the SSC ground yesterday.
Any hope of Sri Lanka batting on day two was shattered when rain played spoilsport twice, once before and after lunch sessions reducing the day’s play to 44. 2 overs.
Pakistan resuming from their overnight score of 334 for 1 continued their aggression scoring an average of 3.5 runs per over but lost three wickets on the way. Mohammad Hafeez missed his maiden double ton by just four runs while Azhar Ali equaled his career-best score of 157 as Pakistan made 488 for the loss of four wickets on day two.
Hafeez who batted brilliantly for his career-best 196 runs, went for a sweep off Herath, hoping to reach the double hundred with a boundary, only to find his leg stump off. His dismissal ended a marathon 287 runs partnership for the second wicket with Azhar Ali.
Azhar Ali who was unbeaten on 92 equalled his career best score of 157 before giving a simple catch to Nuwan Kulasekara at backward point off Suraj Randiv who finished with figures of 1 for 107 in 25 overs.
Ali who only had nine boundaries in his 295 ball innings showed great character and temperament as he accumulated runs with ease and shared a blistering 70 runs for the third wicket with Younis Khan. He cut pacer Nuwan Pradeep, who was a huge gamble going into the second Test, to celebrate his third test century and his second against Sri Lanka with a boundary.
Former skipper Younis Khan who has been at the receiving end of some dubious umpiring decisions may consider himself unlucky after umpire Simon Taufel ruled him out leg-before to Herath. The ball hit him on his pad but replays shows that it was just outside the off-stump. He made 32. Skipper Misbah-ul-Haq was threatening to go for a big score as he piled up runs at a quick pace and was unbeaten on 29 off 40 balls. Asad Shafiq was on unbeaten one when the heavens opened up halting the second day’s play.
For the hosts, Herath toiled hard for his two wickets, having bowled half of the overs bowled on day two, but the two Nuwans (Kulasekara and Pradeep) were hardly effective. Herath finished with 2 for 143 in 45 overs.
Sri Lanka put Pakistan to bat under perfect batting conditions on day one which they regret having conceded 334 runs for loss of one wicket on day 1.