Rain – and Malik – resist SLNeil Pickup |
Shoaib Malik’s maiden Test century – a defiant, unbeaten 148 – was the centrepiece of a day-long Pakistani resistance that secured a draw at the SSC in Colombo.
A pitch that had been saturated on day one, and vindictive to the tune of 14 wickets on day two, continued its steady appreciation toward bat-friendlines, and only the the incessant whirling of Muttiah Muralitharan’s off breaks and doosras ever suggested a result might be possible.
An eighty-minute rain break defused the tension set by a teasing earlier spell from the spinner, and as Rudi Koertzen failed to notice a thin edge through to Kumar Sangakkara – who dropped Malik on 14 – eighty runs later, the opener’s first ton seemed scripted in its inevitability.
It required the second new ball – taken midway through the afternoon with the game already beginning to flow towards stasis, to separate Faisal Iqbal from Malik, as Farveez Maharoof trapped Iqbal leg before, moving the ball back.into the batsman. This wicket barely furthered the Sri Lankan victory push, however, merely precipitating the arrival of Inzamam-ul-Haq.
The Pakistani captain was not to be swayed from his side’s match-saving mission, and added a further 81 with Malik – the opener a far cry from his shot-happy self against England – before falling, snaffled at silly point by Tillakaratne Dilshan off Murali – two shy of his own half-century with the game all but secure.
Abdul Razzaq joined Malik for a final flurry, as the opener loosened his shackles, striking Muralitharn for two sixes in a twenty-run over as he collected 45 off his final 33 deliveries.
The Second – and final – Test begins at the Asgiriya Stadium in Kandy on Monday, April 3rd, where both sides will be confident in their chances of claiming the series – Pakistan furthering their claim for England’s number two slot, and Sri Lanka defending a stuttering world rating.
Sri Lanka 185
Tillakaratne Dilshan 69, Farveez Maharoof 46
Mohammad Asif 4-41, Danish Kaneria 3-44
Imran Farhat 69, Inzamam-ul-Haq 31
Farveez Maharoof 4-52, Muttiah Muralitharan 3-41
Sri Lanka 448-5 declared
Kumar Sangakkara 185, Mahela Jayawardene 82
Mohammad Asif 2-71, Shoaib Malik 1-48
Shoaib Malik 148*, Faisal Iqbal 60
Muttiah Muralitharan 3-94, Farveez Maharoof 1-70
Cricket Web Player of the Match
Shoaib Malik (Pakistan) – 13, 148* and 1-48