Veteran batsman Younus Khan hit an unbeaten 133 to steer Pakistan out of trouble on the opening day of the first Test against Sri Lanka in Galle on Wednesday.
The tourists, electing to bat in overcast conditions, slumped to 56-3 before Younus’ rescue act helped them recover to 261-4 when bad light ended play two overs early at the Galle International Stadium.
The 36-year-old middle-order batsman, who came to bat in his 90th Test at 19-2, hit 11 boundaries and a six in his 24th century. Only Inzamamul Haq (25) has more Test hundreds for Pakistan.
Captain Misbahul Haq, making a typically dour but determined 31, put on 100 for the fourth wicket with Younus before he was caught behind off left-arm spinner Rangana Herath.
Asad Shafiq ensured the effort did not go waste as he saw off the second new ball to help Younus add 105 for the fifth wicket, himself returning unbeaten at close on 55.
Pakistan’s coach Waqar Younis said he was delighted at the total his team was able to post after the early setbacks.
“Any coach or captain will be proud of that,” said the former fast-bowler. “It all boiled down to experience. Younus has tons of it and so does Misbah.
“There was a lot of talk at home of whether Shafiq deserved to be in the side. He showed today that he belongs to the highest level.”
‘Bold decision to bat first’
Waqar said it was a bold decision by the team management and the captain to bat first despite favourable overcast conditions for the bowlers.
“With so much rain around, there is bound to be some juice in the pitch and I thought we were very bold to bat first. That paid off because the wicket eased up by afternoon.”
Sri Lanka’s coach Marvan Atapattu admitted it was hard work for the bowlers after the morning session.
“I think we have done well to keep them down to 261, but a lot still remains to be done,” he said.
Younus was given a reprieve by the Decision Review System (DRS) when he was on 59 after umpire Bruce Oxenford had declared him leg-before to off-spinner Dilruwan Perera. Television replays showed the ball pass over the stumps.
The partnership between Younus and 40-year-old Misbah came after Sri Lanka dominated the morning session with three quick wickets.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 7th, 2014.
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