The Sundaytimes Sri Lanka

The decision where Mahela went wrong

Pakistan pile on placid SSC track

Mohammed Hafeez and and Azhar Ali walk back to the pavilion after their unbeaten knocks. - Pic by Amila Gamage

Lankan skipper Mahela Jayawardena’s decision to send Pakistan to bat first went horrendously wrong last morning. The visitors propped by a huge knock of 172 not out by opener Mohammed Hafeez ended day one of the  second Test  on an astronomical 334 for 1 at the Sinhalese Sports Club grounds.

Hafeez who had not scored a half century during this whole tour made his career best knock in 281 balls with 18 fours and a six.  It was not only Hafeez that flayed the Lankan attack.  Opener Thawfeeq Omar and one-drop bat Azar Ali 92 not out also took advantage of the given conditions to pile on.

However just before close of play Haffez had his second let off for the day when umpire Simon Taufel negated a confident appeal for caught behind,  thus adding more concrete to the cry for Decision Review System that has become the  topic in town since the last Test match in Galle.

The Lankan strike bowlers Nuwan Kulasekera who bagged five wickets, off Spinner Suraj Randiv who bagged seven wickets and Rangana Herath were all victims of the circumstance.  The wicket showed no mercy to these trundlers.  So the record of Pakistan going unbeaten in a Test match against Sri Lanka at SSC seems to be going on.

Mohammed Hafeez prays after reaching his century

Placid wickets at this venue is notorious.  Previously 2010 in reply to Sri Lanka’s 642 for 4 declared India scored a huge 707 in their first inning in a drawn game.Though the wicket had some lateral movement in the first hour or so, it turned out to be a bowler’s nightmare as the initial moisture dried out.

Earlier in the day Sri Lanka skipper invited Pakistan to occupy the SSC crease first, on a wicket which looked far more settled for batting than first one at Galle.The arm chair fears came to pass soon when the Pakistan opening batsmen Mohammed Hafeez and Thawfeeq Omar handled the Lankan seam attack which looked quite menacing in Galle with consummate ease.

Out of the two batsmen it was Thawfeeq Omar who went on the offensive first racing to brisk 65 in just 74 balls with twelve fours.  Thawfeeq who in previous over hit Mathews for twelve runs to post his half century was out looking a cut a ball outside the off stump. Thawfeeq hit twelve fours.The Pakistan first wicket fell with around twenty five minutes for lunch and Azar Ali joining watchful Mohammed Hafeez batted on till lunch to go in at 94 for 1.

After lunch Hafeez who was dormant  switched gear to the aggressive mode and moved to 50 in 103 balls with five fours.
Hafeez used the paddle sweep to good effect at the initial stages of his innings came to his own batted with all the ease in the world and a lot of authority, kissed mother earth having completed his first hundred against Sri Lanka and the fifth in his career.However a  run later on 101 which incidentally also was the last over before tea, Hafeez pulling seamer Mathews on the leg side nicked and was caught by stumper  Prasanna Jayawardena.  While the Lanka were celebrating this rare wicket the third umpire pointed out it was a no ball after on wicket umpire Ian Gould had inquired the authenticity of the delivery.  Lankans were back to square-one and Pakistan went in for tea at 217 for 1.

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