Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq fell just short of his sixth Test century, but his team clung on to their slim hopes of salvaging the second Test against Sri Lanka after a stirring rearguard action in Dubai yesterday.
Pakistan resumed the fourth day’s play trailing Sri Lanka by 91 runs with seven second-innings wickets in hand, but Misbah’s dour 97 and wicketkeeper Sarfraz Ahmed’s defiant unbeaten 70 powered them to 330 for seven when heavy drizzle forced an early close.
Ahmed and Saeed Ajmal (seven), whose bowling on the final day could prove crucial, are to return today hoping to stretch the team’s 107-run lead and hope for rain on a day with a cloudy forecast.
Resuming on 132 for three, the responsibility for erasing the deficit was on two of Pakistan’s senior batsmen, Misbah and Younus Khan.
The duo adopted contrasting approaches, with Younus’s fluency complimented by Misbah’s doggedness, which frustrated the Sri Lankans for nearly an hour as Misbah needed 37 deliveries to score his first run of the day.
Younus, who stood well outside the crease to negate any swing, hit Suranga Lakmal through extra cover for the first boundary of the day, but runs were not easy to come by.
The former Pakistan captain was lured in by the width of a Lakmal delivery and miscued a cut shot to give Prasanna Jayawardene his fourth catch of the innings.
Younus, who made a fluent 77 off 173 balls with five boundaries, added 129 for the fourth wicket with Misbah, who looked unperturbed by the slow run rate.
Misbah added 52 more runs with Asad Shafiq (23), who fell to Shaminda Eranga with the new ball.
The 39-year-old right-hander occasionally broke the shackles, hitting Rangana Herath’s first ball of the day to the midwicket boundary, but the stocky left-arm spinner had the last laugh.
Swept for a four in the first delivery of another over, Herath sent down the third from round the wicket and spun it past Misbah’s tentative blade and on to off-stump.
It took a nearly unplayable delivery to end Misbah’s painstaking 248-ball vigil, which included eight fours and a six, before the tea break.
Bilawal Bhatti braved an injured hamstring to score 32 runs, but could not lock an Eranga yorker which knocked off the bails.
However, Sarfraz reached his maiden fifty, with the rookie stumper hitting seven boundaries in his unbeaten 123-ball knock.
NEW ZEALAND V W INDIES
An unbeaten 85-run stand between Brendon McCullum and Luke Ronchi laid the foundation for New Zealand’s 81-run win over the West Indies in their opening Twenty20 international yesterday.
The New Zealand batting was backed up by tight bowling, led by Nathan McCullum, who celebrated his 50th Twenty20 international with figures of four for 24.
New Zealand, who elected to bat first, appeared in trouble at 105-3 after 13 overs, before McCullum and Ronchi lifted them to 189-5, which proved too big a target for the West Indies.
The visiting team was five for 64 after 11 overs in their reply, before staggering through to be eight for 108 at the finish.
Fletcher was the only West Indies batsman to get into the 20s, while Jimmy Neesham backed up Nathan McCullum with three for 16.
The second Twenty20 is scheduled to be held in Wellington on Wednesday.