Abu Dhabi // Sri Lanka are confident they can save the first Test against Pakistan at the Zayed Cricket Stadium despite ending the third day needing another 267 runs to avoid an innings defeat.
Thursday was another long, fruitless one for the visitors. Taufeeq Umar's record-breaking 236 carried Pakistan to a mammoth 511 before the declaration. In the 11 remaining overs, Sri Lanka lost Tharanga Paranavitana to the very first ball of the innings before Kumar Sangakkara and Lahiru Thirimanne launched a brief but spirited counter to end on 47 without further loss.
They now need to effectively bat out two full days to save the Test, something that, Champaka Ramanayake, the bowling coach, feels they are well-placed to do.
"We are very confident we can come back," he said. "We have a few players who are capable of playing big hundreds so we are confident we can bat through."
Sri Lanka's bowling was, as it was on Wednesday, committed but rarely threatening on a surface from which Pakistan have continuously managed to extract something.
Chanaka Welegedara was the stand-out, finding some shape into the batsmen and dismissing Azhar Ali and Younis Khan. Rangana Herath continued his toil and Nuwan Pradeep impressed again, but little pressure was sustained.
Pradeep's no-ball wicket of Asad Shafiq just before the final drinks of the day was probably the most fitting image of their efforts.
"Pradeep is devastated," Ramanayake said. "He bowled very well and I think he was the best; he bowled his heart out. They all bowled very hard but I think they were a bit impatient.
"They did try pretty hard but being youngsters they lack in experience. Only Welegedara and Herath are experienced while the rest are very new and they need some more time."
TAUFEEQ PLAYS THROUGH PAIN
Taufeeq Umar, the Pakistani opener, completed a long-held ambition in compiling his first Test double hundred at the Zayed Cricket Stadium against Sri Lanka. And in the process of his near 12-hour 236, he managed to put himself in some illustrious company.
Taufeeq’s double – his sixth Test hundred – was the first by a Pakistani opener since Aamir Sohail’s 205 against England at Old Trafford in 1992. The opener’s second hundred since his comeback from a four-year absence last year also became the second-highest score by a Pakistani opener, after Hanif Mohammad’s legendary 337 against West Indies in 1958.
“I feel great,” Taufeeq said. “It was my burning desire to make a Test double hundred, so it’s come true today and I am very happy. To have my name mentioned in the same company as Hanif and Sohail is a big thing for me, a huge honour.”
At 700 minutes, it was one of the longest played by a Pakistani.
Cramps set in at various points through the knock, including Thursday after lunch, when his scoring was particularly slow. But he ended strong, scoring 43 in the half session after tea.
GOING LIKE 200
Listed as: Player Score Opponents Venue Year
Hanif Mohammad 337 West Indies Bridgetown 1958
Taufeeq Umar 236 Sri Lanka Abu Dhabi 2011
Mudassar Nazar 231 India Hyderabad (Sind) 1983
Taslim Arif 210 Australia Faisalabad 1980
Aamer Sohail 205 England Manchester 1992
Shoaib Mohammad 203 New Zealand Karachi 1990
Mohsin Khan 200 England Lord’s 1982