COLOMBO - Azhar Ali smashed 157 and Mohammad Hafeez narrowly missed a double century but wet weather dampened Pakistan's hopes of forcing a result over hosts Sri Lanka in the second Test on Sunday.
The entire evening session was washed out, and with more rain forecast over the next three days, Pakistan face a tough task to level the three-match series after losing the first Test in Galle by 209 runs. Azhar, who put on 287 for the second wicket with Hafeez, added 70 for the third with Younus Khan (32) and 51 for the fourth with skipper Misbah-ul Haq (29 not out).
The overnight pair of Hafeez and Azhar toned down their aggressive approach on the second morning to frustrate an attack looking for quick wickets to stem the flow of runs. The partnership between Hafeez and Azhar was the highest against Sri Lanka on their home soil for any wicket, surpassing the 258 by Australians Mike Hussey and Shaun Marsh at Pallekele last year.
Hafeez fell short of a coveted 200 when, after a patient knock that lasted seven hours, he was bowled attempting a wild heave off Rangana Herath to reach the landmark before lunch. The all-rounder hit 20 boundaries and a six. Azhar, who was on 92 overnight, took an hour to reach his hundred, which he achieved by smashing seamer Nuwan Pradeep to the point fence after being stranded on 99 for 20 agonising minutes.
It was the Lahore batsman's third century and the second in his last three Tests after making 157 against England in Dubai in February. But Azhar gifted his wicket just before tea with a reckless reverse sweep off Suraj Randiv which lobbed easily to Nuwan Kulasekara at point.
Younus, given out leg-before to Herath, appeared unhappy at Australian umpire Simon Taufel's decision. Television replays proved inconclusive. Herath ended the day with two for 143, while Randiv had one for 107. Pakistan will look to declare early on Monday to give their bowlers time to dismiss Sri Lanka twice in three days on a wicket that remains a batsman's ally.
PAKISTAN 1ST INNINGS:
M Hafeez b Herath 196
T Umar c P Jayawardene b Mathews 65
Azhar Ali c Kulasekara b Randiv 157
Younus Khan lbw b Herath 32
Misbah-ul Haq not out 29
Asad Shafiq not out 1
EXTRAS: (lb4, nb3, w1) 8
TOTAL: (4 wkts, 134.2 overs) 488
FOW: 1-78, 2-365, 3-435, 4-486
BOWLING: Kulasekara 27-6-84-0, Mathews 15-1-55-1, Pradeep 21.2-3-86-0, Randiv 25-0-107-1, Herath 45-5-143-2, Dilshan 1-0-9-0
TOSS: Sri Lanka
UMPIRES: Ian Gould (ENG) and Simon Taufel (AUS)
TV UMPIRE: Ruchira Palliyaguruge (SRI)
MATCH REFEREE: David Boon (AUS)