CricketArchive

Younis Khan leads the fightback
by CricketArchive Staff Reporter


Player:Younis Khan, Shoaib Malik, BAW Mendis

DateLine: 23rd February 2009

 

Pakistan chose to go slow as the Sri Lankan bowlers flourished under lack of pressure in the first session on the third day which saw 79 runs scored for the loss of one wicket. Pakistan were crawling initially but Younis Khan upped the tempo to ensure the morning did not entirely belong to the visitors. Sri Lanka tightened the noose with some disciplined and crafty bowling on a flat pitch. Muralitharan suffocated the batsmen while Mendis shrugged off his recent indifferent ODI form and harassed the batsmen as he kept it full at a quickish pace, cutting it both ways and slipping in quite a few offbreaks and googlies.

 

Mendis and Prasanna combined to dismiss Khurram Manzoor when he edged Mendis behind. Younis looked pretty confident and busy out in the middle. There were three elegant cover drives off Chaminda Vaas but the shot of the morning was a whiplash square drive against Dilhara Fernando. Though he was cautious against the spinners, he did make sure he put away the loose balls. Jayawardene didn't deploy his spinners in tandem till the last 20 minutes of the session, choosing to attack with seam from one end. Vaas tried luring Younis to edge a drive with his full and wide ones which were put away with ease and Fernando got a few to burst from short of length, slipped in a few slower ones but continued to struggle with no balls. He beat the bat couple of times and induced Shoaib Malik to edge but the ball fell short of slip. At lunch the score read 123 for the loss of two wickets.

 

Sri Lanka failed to make any inroads as the experienced pair of Younis Khan and Shoaib Malik had a superb middle session. They looked confident on the flat track and added 90 runs in 32 overs. Younis led from the front with a well-made hundred, hitting eleven boundaries en route. It was a dogged effort from the new Pakistan captain, who had brought up his half-century in the second over after lunch. Shoaib Malik provided able support, patiently picking up his runs. Mahela Jayawardene reviewed his tactics after operating with Muttiah Muralitharan and Ajantha Mendis right from the start. But the fast bowlers Chaminda Vaas and Dilhara Fernando could do little to break the third-wicket partnership as Pakistan went from strength to strength.

 

During the middle session both the batsmen began to look for some quick runs as Younis Khan and Malik began to find the fence but then as the session drew to close once again they lifted their foot off the accelerator and played out time. Malik played a perfect second fiddle to Younis Khan as he showed that he had a huge reservoir of patience and he did not play a false shot as the team situation demanded the senior batsmen to dig it out. Younis Khan however enjoyed a slice of luck on 92 when he was dropped by Dilshan at midwicket of Mendis as he chipped the ball in the air. Had he been dismissed at that point of time things would have been difficult for Pakistan. The spin twins were safely negotiated by the pair as they added an unbroken 135 for the third wicket taking the score to 213 for the loss of just two wickets.

 

Sri Lanka finally broke through by dismissing Malik but not before he got his half century. Malik had compiled a dogged half century and had put 149 for the third wicket with Younis Khan when Muralitharan's throw from mid-off found Malik well short of his crease. Sri Lanka finally took the new ball in the 97th over with Vaas making the first use of the ball, surprisingly Murali was called to share the new ball. The new batsman Misbah took his time to get adjusted to the slow wicket whereas Younis Khan was still on look out for runs as he regularly brought out his favoured reverse sweep. As the session progressed he began to open up and even Misbah who looked to just nudge the ball around played a slog sweep off Murali to midwicket fence and the pair brought up their 50 run stand in 89 balls.

 

As the session progressed the Sri Lankan bowlers looked more and more toothless as they were not helped by a benign pitch. Off the four bowlers used by Jayawardene Fernando was the weak link as he leaked runs by bucketful, Murali could not bowl a sustained spell, while Mendis could not find the bite off the pitch and the lack of pace of Vaas was very well exploited by the Pakistani batsmen and at close of the day the score read 292 for the lose of three wickets with the skipper Younis Khan unbeaten on 149.


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