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Cricket | International

Rain provides SL's only respite



Azhar Ali smashed 157 and Mohammad Hafeez narrowly missed a double century but wet weather dampened Pakistan's hopes of forcing a result over hosts Sri Lanka in the second test on Sunday.

Hafeez fell for 196 and Azhar equalled his highest score as the tourists moved from their overnight position of 334-1 to 488-4 on a rain-hit second day at the Sinhalese Sports Club in Colombo.

Heavy showers on either side of lunch and just before tea allowed just 44 overs to be bowled in the day, in which Pakistan scored 154 runs.

The entire evening session was washed out, and with more rain forecast over the next three days, Pakistan face a tough task to level the three-match series after losing the first test in Galle by 209 runs.

Azhar, who put on 287 for the second wicket with Hafeez, added 70 for the third with Younis Khan (32) and 51 for the fourth with skipper Misbah-ul Haq (29 not out).

The overnight pair of Hafeez and Azhar toned down their aggressive approach on the second morning to frustrate an attack looking for quick wickets to stem the flow of runs.

The partnership between Hafeez and Azhar was the highest against Sri Lanka on their home soil for any wicket, surpassing the 258 by Australians Mike Hussey and Shaun Marsh at Pallekele last year.

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Hafeez fell short of a coveted 200 when, after a patient knock that lasted seven hours, he was bowled attempting a wild heave off Rangana Herath to reach the landmark before lunch.

The all-rounder hit 20 boundaries and a six.

Azhar, who was on 92 overnight, took an hour to reach his hundred, which he achieved by smashing seamer Nuwan Pradeep to the point fence after being stranded on 99 for 20 agonising minutes.

It was the Lahore batsman's third century and the second in his last three tests after making 157 against England in Dubai in February.

But Azhar gifted his wicket just before tea with a reckless reverse sweep off Suraj Randiv which lobbed easily to Nuwan Kulasekara at point.

Younis, given out leg-before to Herath, appeared unhappy at Australian umpire Simon Taufel's decision. Television replays proved inconclusive.

Herath ended the day with two for 143, while Randiv had one for 107.

Pakistan will look to declare early on Monday to give their bowlers time to dismiss Sri Lanka twice in three days on a wicket that remains a batsman's ally.


Report Day 1


SRI LANKA: NT Paranavitana, TM Dilshan, KC Sangakkara, DPMD Jayawardene (capt), TT Samaraweera, AD Mathews, HAPW Jayawardene (wk), S Randiv, KMDN Kulasekara, HMRKB Herath, N Pradeep

PAKISTAN: Mohammad Hafeez, Taufeeq Umar, Azhar Ali, Younis Khan, Misbah-ul-Haq (capt), Asad Shafiq, Adnan Akmal (wk), Abdur Rehman, Saeed Ajmal, Junaid Khan, Aizaz Cheema

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