Session updates from day three of the first Test at the Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi: Pakistan build a 242-run lead at tea.
Pakistan v Sri Lanka: Day three session updates from Abu Dhabi
Osman Samiuddin will be providing regular session updates from the first Test between Pakistan and Sri Lanka at the Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi
ABU DHABI // Timing was always going to be the key theme of the last session of the third day's play from the Shaikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi.
Pakistan had to get their declaration right and though it seemed they were being unnecessarily defensive, one Sri Lankan wicket before the close of play seemed to render it irrelevant.
Sri Lanka are still 267 runs behind, with two days to save the Test.
Taufeeq Umar's near-12 hour 236, the plank on which Pakistan's 511 for 6 stood, took in a host of landmarks. It was the first double hundred by a Pakistan opener since Aamir Sohail's 205 at Old Trafford in 1992.
It was also, after Hanif Mohammad's Bridgetown epic in 1958, the second-highest score by a Pakistan opener.
And finally, he became only the fourth Pakistani to bat 700 minutes or more in a Test. Though not measured, it's unlikely too many such innings have been played in such heat.
Pakistan's problems, however, seemed to be at the other end with Asad Shafiq finding it difficult to adapt to the needs of the situation. There was an impressive early upper-cut, but thereafter he dawdled, ending unbeaten on 26 but taking 94 balls for it.
And he should not have remained unbeaten, dismissed by a ripper from debutant Nuwan Pradeep on nine, only to discover it was a no-ball.
The lead passed 300 - a natural point of declaration - and yet Pakistan batted on. Umar was finally run-out and still they didn't declare. Instead Umar Gul came out, swung at his first ball, swung again and was dismissed off his second and finally came the declaration.
The dilly-dallying didn't seem to matter when Gul struck first ball of the innings and it may yet come to nothing. Though Kumar Sangakkara and Lahiru Thirimanne survived and prospered in an attacking end-session, something Umar-esque will be needed to save this Test.
Pakistan finally began their push for an eventual declaration in the middle session of the third day at the Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi. Captain Misbah-ul-Haq provided the spur and Umar a continuing anchor as Pakistan ended on 439 for four, a massive 242 runs ahead.
Intent had been there from the start of the session, but Channaka Welegedera continued an impressive day by trapping Younis Khan leg-before six overs after lunch. Misbah’s mood was gauged almost immediately as he lofted Rangana Herath for six over long-on.
There was then unveiled a typical Misbah canvas, with lap sweeps, reverse sweeps, heaves over midwicket and some smart running. A backfoot punch off Nuwan Pradeep through point in the over before drinks was about the best and most orthodox stroke however.
Umar accelerated in his slipstream, cutting well, driving hard and running with greater urgency and helping add 103 runs in the session. An already gargantuan knock — he’s batted over ten hours, in this heat — is about to become record-breaking as well. If he does reach the double, it will be the first time since Aamer Sohail’s 205 against England at Old Trafford in 1992 that Pakistani opener has made 200.
Expect a declaration before the end of the day, possibly when the lead reaches 300.
Another morning of leisurely accumulation by Pakistan at the Shaikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi, though to be fair they had promised much the same after yesterday's play.
By lunch on the third day of the opening Test against Sri Lanka, Umar was embedded deeper on proceedings than most war correspondents, unbeaten on a career-best unbeaten 146. With Younis Khan also at the crease, Pakistan extended the lead to 139, on 336 for two.
The big story from the session was the continuing inability of Azhar Ali to convert fifties into hundreds. Having looked compact and elegant, and untroubled, for over four hours he suddenly went too far over a delivery from Channaka Welegedera that shaped in just a touch in the morning's seventh over to be bowled.
Umar was tested by some short-pitched bowling thereafter by the willing Nuwan Pradeep either side of drinks. But every now and again, enough width or length was offered for him to keep gliding through third man.
Younis Khan looked as busy as he always does, a blur of near-constant motion at the crease and the non-striker's end. He was off the mark with a double, and though boundaries were rare, he kept the score moving along.
Sri Lanka had chances; Umar clipped Rangana Herath just wide off a short midwicket and Prasanna Jayawardene badly missed a leg-side chance off Younis Khan when he was on 16.
Yet again Herath was the threat, finding some bounce and turn, signs that don't bode particularly well for Sri Lanka's second innings.
As lunch drew nearer, Umar slapped a straight drive down the ground to bring up the fifty stand and signal total control.
Unless Sri Lanka do something dramatic this morning, the morning session is likely to be much the same as yesterday: cautious, but upward progress from Pakistan.
Taufeeq Umar’s sixth Test century set up the second day beautifully for Pakistan and his message after play was for more patience.
In any case, much focus will be on young Azhar Ali now.
Over a year on from his debut, Azhar has already become one of the most important men in the batting order and yesterday’s fifty was, remarkably, his 10th in only 14 Tests. The only issue has been, of course, his inability to convert any of those into a hundred and today presents as ideal an opportunity to rectify that situation.
Umar felt the surface was starting to break a little for the spinners yesterday and thought it may do so more today. Rangana Herath will come into it, but he will need sturdier support than he has gotten so far.
A reminder too of our live web chat at lunch time, starting at 12pm UAE time, 1pm PST and 130pm IST and 9am BST.