Mohammad Hafeez roared back into form with a career-best 172 not out as Pakistan made Sri Lanka pay for a failed gamble in the second Test.
Pakistan, trailing 1-0 in the three-match series, took advantage of Sri Lanka’s surprise decision to field first on a good batting track. Hafeez led the Pakistani charge with his fifth Test century – and the first after 10 innings – as the tourists moved to a commanding 334 for one by stumps on the opening day. The Pakistan vice-captain has put on 256 runs for the unbroken second wicket with Azhar Ali (92*) after sharing an opening stand of 78 with Taufeeq Umar (65).
The all-rounder had been under pressure to retain his place in the Test side after a barren run of 10 innings since making his previous best of 143 against Bangladesh in Chittagong last year.
“Finally, I did something good for my team,” said Hafeez. “It was tough not to be scoring because the top order has to perform in these conditions. I was under pressure. I just needed some luck and it all came good today.”
Sri Lanka’s coach Graham Ford admitted the decision to field first backfired, but insisted a lot of thought had gone into taking that call.
“Clearly, we got that wrong, but no one thought the pitch will play so well,” said Ford. “There was a lot of discussion and debate and we all felt it was worth having a crack at the ball. But it did not work out the way we wanted. We must give credit to the Pakistan batsmen for playing so well. We now have a lot of work to do.”
Published in The Express Tribune, July 1st, 2012.
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