Veteran batsman Younis Khan hit an unbeaten 133 to steer Pakistan out of trouble on the opening day of the first Test against Sri Lanka, in Galle on Wednesday.
The tourists, electing to bat in overcast conditions, slumped to 56-3 before Khan’s rescue act helped them recover to 261-4 when bad light ended play two overs early at the Galle International Stadium.
The 36-year-old middle-order batsman, who came
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to bat in his 90th Test at 19-2, hit 11 boundaries and a six in his 24th century. Only Inzamam-ul Haq (25) has more Test hundreds for Pakistan.
Skipper Misbah-ul Haq, making a typically dour but determined 31, put on 100 for the fourth wicket with Khan before he was caught behind off left-arm spinner Rangana Herath.
Asad Shafiq ensured the effort did not go waste as he saw off the second new ball to help Khan add 105 for the fifth wicket, himself returning unbeaten at close on 55.
Khan was given a reprieve by the Decision Review System (DRS) when he was on 59 after umpire Bruce Oxenford had declared him leg-before to off-spinner Dilruwan Perera.
Television replays showed the ball pass over the stumps.
The partnership between Khan and 40-year-old Misbah came after Sri Lanka dominated the morning session with three quick wickets.
Seamer Dhammika Prasad removed both openers cheaply to make it 19-2 by the sixth over before a partial recovery helped the tourists move to 59-3 by lunch.
Prasad, working up a tidy pace on a pitch that afforded bounce and movement, bowled Ahmed Shehzad off the inside edge with his third delivery after being hit for a boundary off the first.
The seamer then trapped Khurram Manzoor leg-before in his third over, but Azhar Ali and Khan settled in to put on 37 as the wicket eased out under the mild sun.
Ali, who hit five boundaries in his fluent 30, failed to last till lunch as he fell to a good delivery from Herath, which turned and clipped the off-stump.
The start was delayed by 30 minutes due to a wet outfield caused by overnight rain. Bad weather has been forecast on all
five days of the Test.
Both teams went in with two spinners — Saeed Ajmal and Abdur Rehman for Pakistan, and Herath and Perera for the hosts, hoping the grassless pitch provides some turn later in the match.
Former Sri Lankan captain Mahela Jayawardene, who is retiring from the longer format after the two-Test series, walked out to field amid bursting firecrackers as school children gave him a guard of honour with raised bats.
Giant posters of the elegant batsman, who is sixth in the all-time scorers’ list with 11,671 runs in 147 Tests, adorned the Galle International Stadium where some 2,000 home fans were present.