Malik ton gives Pakistan the edge
by CricketArchive Staff Reporter
DateLine: 22nd July 2009
A well paced century from Malik and contrasting half centuries from Misbah-ul-Haq and Kamran Akmal help place Pakistan in a position from where they can dictate terms to the Lankan team. Sri Lanka at one stage had Pakistan gasping at 67 for 4 but then knocks of character from Misbah-ul-Haq and Shoaib Malik help rescue Pakistan from another collapse. At the end of the day taking full advantage of a tiring attack, Akmal scored a scintilatting half century and was looking ominous for the Lankan team
Pakistan was off to a disastrous start as they lost Fawad Alam early in the morning courtesy to a shocking shot. Thushara bowled it short and wide of the off stump, which Fawad Alam, for reasons known only to him, tried to pull it through midwicket. The ball took the leading edge and lobbed back to Thushara who accepted it gleefully. The onus of taking the team to formidable total rested on the shoulders of Younis and Yousuf and they set to work diligently. Younis used his favourite dabs and cuts to get the scoreboard moving while Yousuf was elegance personified. Sangakkara was quick to spot the ease with which the two batsmen were playing and was quick to bring in Herath. That slowed down Yousuf who got bogged down by the left armer.
Younis Khan’s dogged innings was brought down by a combination of good bowling and a debatable decision. Nuwan Kulasekara was brought on by Sangakkara and he after bowling a couple of away swingers got one to nip back into Younis Khan. The ball took the inside edge before hitting the flap of the pad. An imploring appeal from the bowler and the fielders followed which was strong enough to convince the umpire that it was out. That brought Misbah to the crease and from the first ball he faced, it seemed that he was more interested in taking his own sweet time. Meanwhile Yousuf was repeatedly harassed by an untiring Herath as he made the batsman search for the ball. Just when it seemed that Yousuf got the measure of the bowler’s tactics, he would slip in one deceptively quicker arm ball which would hurry the batsman.
Yousuf never looked settled with Herath bowling and crucially for the bowler he did not let the batsman get away from the strike. Cruelly for Yousuf, Herath was able to summon a beautiful delivery, one which pitched on the middle stump line and spun away just a little bit to take the shoulder of the bat on its way to the keeper and thus for the sixth time in his career, Yousuf fell to Herath, thus handing over the momentum to Sri Lanka. After the lunch break, Misbah and Malik put their head down and their aggressive shot-making instincts away to put on a crucial hundred run partnership for the fifth wicket. The effort was on the slower side but the duo wrested the initiative back from the Lankan bowlers who were accurate but not threatening.
The second session did not produce any entertainment but it was highly enthralling. One of the important aspects of the second session was the way the duo neutralized the threat posed by Herath. Malik unfurled some vicious cut shots past point when the bowler pitched it short, while Misbah launched Herath over long-on for a maximum. Malik after finding his feet too lifted Herath over long on for a maximum. Herath though did not let the batsmen dominate him as he kept a tight leash over the run-rate. Misbah looked completely at ease against Herath and unlike Yousuf he was able to smother the turn Herath was able to
Herath on his part did not look flustered but kept plugging away manfully against a pair of batsmen who were equally determined not to lose their wickets.
The duo kept the continued their chanceless knocks into the final session and just when Misbah was opening up he once again contrived to lose his wicket in a bizarre fashion. The new ball was due in around 7 overs and Sangakkara in hope of keeping his frontline bowlers fresh handed the ball to Angelo Mathews.
Misbah had made up his mind to walk down the track and sensing Misbah's intention, Mathews banged the ball short and wide of his off stump. Misbah in momentary lapse of concentration chased the wide ball, which was way above his reach and head but still managed to get the toe end of the bat through to the keeper. Thus ended 119 runs stand between himself and Malik. The partnership took nearly 41 overs but crucially they were able to build a substantial lead. Akmal joined forces with Malik and the duo increased the tempo of scoring. Akmal was the aggressor of the two and once the new ball was taken for the first time in the series, the Pakistani batsmen took advantage of the hardness of the ball for themselves.
Malik reached his second century of his career via a huge six of a tiring Herath, while Akmal was at his busy self as the pair extended the lead past 350 mark.