Sri Lanka steady after Pakistan post 451

Younis Khan’s 177 and some carefree lower-order hitting helped Pakistan reach 451 on the second day against Sri Lanka

Pakistan posted their second-highest total in the first innings of a Test in the past eight years as the lower middle order weighed in after Younis Khan’s 177. Sri Lanka toiled for five sessions on a pitch that went placid after the first morning and conceded 450-plus in successive first innings in Galle – South Africa had made 455 last month. The hosts lost Upul Tharanga early, but Kumar Sangakkara and Kaushal Silva’s partnership had steadily grown to 75 by stumps.

The overnight batsmen Younis and Asad Shafiq could add only 32 on the day before the latter was taken out by Rangana Herath. But Younis hung around to add 66 with Sarfraz Ahmed, who came in with a Test average of 18.58 and batted positively to make a fifty. So did Abdur Rehman, whose blows at No. 8 tipped Pakistan over 450.

There was next to nothing for the fast bowlers on the second morning on a drying pitch under overcast skies in sharp contrast to the first hour on day one. The surface was sedate, and Younis and Shafiq got going with nudges past gully. The only chance Sri Lanka created was an edge produced off Younis by Dhammika Prasad that fell short of first slip.

Angelo Mathews turned to Herath after six overs, but Shafiq stepped out and lofted him for six. Mathews brought himself on and tied Shafiq down with a couple of maidens. Shafiq, who had moved to 75 off 130, went scoreless for 15 balls before failing to pick Herath’s arm ball and falling leg-before.

Sarfraz arrived and swept his first ball for two. He drove eagerly too, and the increased pace of scoring allowed Younis to continue in his own solid way. His leaving and defence were absolutely safe, like they had been through his innings.

He continued to be on the right side of reviews, Sri Lanka finding he had gloved a Herath ball onto pad on 147 as they appealed for leg-before. The 150 came up with a powerful drive off Shaminda Eranga through extra cover for four. Younis gave an opportunity to the same bowler when on 156, but Eranga could not hold onto another sharp drive in his followthrough. As the break neared, Younis jumped out and drove Herath inside-out through extra cover, leaving Sri Lanka staring at another afternoon on the field.

They were to strike soon after lunch, though. Younis went after Dilruwan Perera, off whom he took 58 off 61, again. He reverse-swept him from the line of leg stump for two, tried again and missed the second time and jumped out to the third ball but only chipped it to midwicket.

Sarfraz showed off his timing now, walking across to Prasad and clipping him four to deep midwicket. Even he was to fall to Perera on the leg side, when he hit one to short mid-on trying to go over the top.

Rehman had been targeted persistently with the short ball, but on a slow pitch, had survived without much trouble. He grew in confidence to take three successive fours off Eranga’s short stuff. Two were cut over the cordon, while the third was whipped through square leg.

Even as Mathews sent several fielders to the deep, Rehman started stepping out to loft Perera for boundaries. One such attempt failed to clear wide long-off and Perera finished with five wickets, but Pakistan had scored freely off him, taking 137 in 31.5 overs from the offspinner and 190 in 52.5 for the day.

Sri Lanka’s reply started in a frenzy of outside edges, none of which carried. Tharanga lasted 15 deliveries, and his innings was a mix of edges and copping it on the pad as he often fell over in his stance. It seemed only a matter of time before he nicked off or went leg-before and Junaid Khan chose the latter mode.

Mohammad Talha had Silva edging his first ball short of first slip. Silva’s first three fours were outside edges, but to his credit he was trying to play softly, especially off the back foot. The story continued against the spinners, as an edge off Rehman went just past the keeper and bounced inches in front of Younis at slip. Silva’s struggle to find the middle of the bat extended late into the day, but he also put away some rare wide ones from the spinners.

Sangakkara began with an edged boundary through the slips as well, but tightened up later. Pakistan did not refer an lbw appeal against him when he was on 13, and replays showed Saeed Ajmal’s delivery would have hit leg stump. Sangakkara went without a boundary for 57 balls before he pulled and drove Junaid for two in an over just before stumps. Pakistan ended the day still comfortably ahead, but this is one wicket they will want early next morning.

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