ABU DHABI: Sri Lanka were fighting to save the first Test under a heavy 300-plus deficit after Pakistan opener Taufeeq Umar hit his maiden double hundred on the third day.
Shot out for 197, Sri Lanka closed on 47 for one after Umar hit a sedate 236 to lift Pakistan to 511 for six declared in their first-innings.
Sri Lanka, who conceded a 314-run lead, still need another 267 runs to avoid an innings defeat with the pitch showing signs of turn which Pakistan spinners Saeed Ajmal and Mohammad Hafeez are likely to exploit. Fast-bowler Umar Gul struck with the first ball of the second-innings, trapping Tharanga Paranavitana before Lahiru Thirimanne (20) and Kumar Sangakkara (27) survived some anxious moments to see off the day.
It was Umar’s typical Test match knock which held the Pakistan innings together, adding invaluable runs with Azhar Ali (70), Younis Khan (33), Misbahul Haq (46) and Asad Shafiq (26 not out).
Umar’s is the first double hundred by a Pakistan opener since Aamir Sohail’s 205 against England at Old Trafford in 1992, highlighting the lack of quality openers and their regular chopping in the country’s team. The 31-year-old hit 17 boundaries and a six during his marathon 700-minute stay at the crease, consuming 496 deliveries to notch the second highest Test score by a Pakistan opener behind Hanif Mohammad’s 337.
Umar said his wish had come true. “I had a burning desire to score a double hundred,” said Umar. “It was hot out there but I’m glad that I’m now in the illustrious company of Sohail and Hanif who were great players.”
Published in The Express Tribune, October 21st, 2011.
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