Pakistan captain Babar Azam hails Abdullah Shafique's class after record chase in Galle

Shafique hit a fantastic hundred as Pakistan beat Sri Lanka by four wickets on the thrilling fifth day of the first Test



Abdullah Shafique played a superb match-winning knock. (Twitter)
Abdullah Shafique played a superb match-winning knock. (Twitter)

By AFP

Published: Wed 20 Jul 2022, 3:08 PM

Abdullah Shafique hit an epic 160 to anchor Pakistan’s record chase of 342 at Galle as the tourists won a thrilling opening Test against Sri Lanka on Wednesday.

The opener capped his marathon display with the winning runs in the final session on day five, jumping for joy and pumping his fist as Pakistan triumphed by four wickets for a 1-0 lead in the two-match series.

Left-arm spinner Prabath Jayasuriya took a match haul of nine wickets but his efforts were in vain as the visitors battled past the previous best chase in Galle of 268 by Sri Lanka against New Zealand in 2019.

The 22-year-old Shafique excelled with his second Test ton. He built crucial partnerships including a 101-run third-wicket stand with skipper Babar Azam, who made 55 after his 119 in the first innings on a tricky pitch to bat on.

“We know how to play spin so we believed,” Azam said after the tense win. “When I was batting with Abdullah Shafique we were just trying to build a partnership. He has shown his class.”

Shafique, who was named man of the match, said: “It was difficult but with time it was easier. Babar is one of the best in the world. We have learnt so much from him. I enjoyed batting with him in the middle.”

The unbeaten Shafique finally combined with Mohammad Nawaz, 19 not out, to take the visitors home after a brief rain interruption halted their charge. The teams had taken early tea before returning for the third session of play.

Shafique survived three dropped catches, on 70, 135 and 151, but deserved his luck and played the anchor’s role to perfection as he surpassed his previous Test best of 136 not out.

Pakistan had a few anxious moments after Jayasuriya, who sent back talisman Azam before the close on day four, struck at the stroke of lunch to get debutant Salman Ali Agha out for 12.

Hasan Ali fell for five in the second over of the second session after being promoted up the order to hit out the remaining runs.

Jayasuriya, who took 12 wickets on debut in a series-levelling Test win over Australia last week at the same venue, six in each innings, kept up the pressure but Shafique stood firm.

Pakistan resumed the day on 222-3 and Sri Lanka soon used up their remaining two umpire reviews, with Jayasuriya involved in both calls.

Mohammad Rizwan opened his day’s account with a boundary off Ramesh Mendis and kept up his positive intent by taking singles and twos, before he fell lbw to Jayasuriya for 40.

“With the ball we could not support Prabath from the other end. We had to give him more support,” skipper Dimuth Karunaratne said of his lead spinner, who toiled for 95.2 overs in the two innings combined.

A review did not save Rizwan, a wicketkeeper-batsman who has come into the two-match series after a successful stint with English county Sussex.

Dinesh Chandimal kept up his blazing form in an unbeaten 94 — his second successive half-century — when he ran out of partners in Sri Lanka’s second-innings total of 337.

In a match of tail-end fightbacks, Azam hit a defiant century in Pakistan’s first innings and batted patiently with the lower order after the visitors slipped to 85-7 on day two.

The second Test starts on Sunday, also in Galle, after it was moved from Colombo due to the political unrest in Colombo, Sri Lanka’s capital.


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