x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Veteran cricket duo put Pakistan in charge over Sri Lanka

A 218-run stand between Younis Khan and Misbah-ul-Haq led Pakistan to 327 for four in Abu Dhabi, reports Osman Samiuddin.

Pakistan batsman Younis Khan, centre, and Misbah-ul-Haq, right, run between the wickets as Sri Lankan bowler Suranga Lakmal looks on during the second day of their first cricket Test match at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday. AFP PHOTO/Ishara S. KODIKARA
Pakistan batsman Younis Khan, centre, and Misbah-ul-Haq, right, run between the wickets as Sri Lankan bowler Suranga Lakmal looks on during the second day of their first cricket Test match at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday. AFP PHOTO/Ishara S. KODIKARA

ABU DHABI // Pakistan seem to be identifying a pattern for success at the Zayed Cricket Stadium. It is early days yet in their tenancy at the venue, but in five Tests, including this, it is to easy to see.

Bowl first if the chance presents itself. Surprise the opponents by making use of a pitch that is kind to bowlers who know how it works early in a Test (though not as much as the plentiful grass on it suggests).

Bowl them out cheaply. Bat patiently and sensibly, bat big. Then bowl them out cheaply under pressure of runs second time round.

This has actually worked only once, against South Africa earlier this season and the sample size is small. But they have not lost here. In the draw against Sri Lanka two years ago and, already, a potential triumph here, it is compelling.

On Tuesday, Pakistan had accomplished the first part, by bowling Sri Lanka out cheaply. Yesterday, they began implementing the second: a 218-run stand between Younis Khan and Misbah-ul-Haq led Pakistan to 327 for four, and a lead already of 123.

This union between the two is a prolific one: the stand was the eighth century partnership between them, a combined age of 76 years. It was an important one as it came when Pakistan were tottering just a bit at 83-3, having lost two wickets in the morning.

They began carefully but cashed in during the post-lunch session, adding 130 runs at more than four an over. “We lost back-to-back wickets so it was needed to hang in there as senior players and we did that exactly,” Younis said, after his 136, which put him level with Javed Miandad as Pakistan’s third-most prolific hundred-maker.

“They were bowling well at that time and the wicket was suitable for fast bowling. When you have a partnership and play a session and get 50-60 runs everything goes wrong for the other team and that’s what happened. We had a big partnership and then we were getting easy singles after that.”

Misbah took his time, getting to a fifth Test hundred and second consecutive at the venue three overs before the close of play. It did not matter that Pakistan slowed after Younis’s exit; things were pretty much on plan.

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