Vastavam web: Azhar Ali once more rescued Pakistan’s batting with a fighting half century on the third day of the first Test against Sri Lanka here today.The one-drop batsman was unbeaten on 74 but saw Babar Azam fell for 28 in the last over of the day as Pakistan finished on 266-4 on a Sheikh Zayed Stadium pitch which has started to assist spinners.Pakistan had pinned their hopes on Ali in the post Younis Khan and Misbah-ul-Haq era who retired in May this year after shouldering team’s batting for nearly seven years.
A cautious Ali made sure Pakistan do not concede a big lead in the first innings, having hit only one boundary in his 26th Test half century.When on 32, Ali also completed 5,000 Test runs in his 61st Test. He became the eighth Pakistan batsmen behind Younis Khan (10,099), Javed Miandad (8832) Inzamam-ul-Haq (8829), Mohammad Yousuf (7530), Salim Malik (5768), Misbah (5222) and Zaheer Abbas (5062) to reach the milestone.But it was the opening pair of Shan Masood and Sami Aslam who set the platform for a big total by putting together a solid 114-run opening stand after they resumed at 64 without loss.
Two runs later Masood attempted a sweep shot off the wily Herath but missed the ball and was bowled round his legs.Pakistan had luck on their side with the reviews as both Ali and Shafiq survived confident appeals. Ali wisely reviewed a leg-before decision off Perera, but the ball hit his bat before the pad.Shafiq was given not out on a review when he was stumped off Herath on one.