DateLine: 23rd February 2009
New captain Younus Khan led Pakistan's fightback with his 16th hundred to thwart Sri Lanka on the third day of the opening Test here on Monday.
The 31-year-old right-hander was unbeaten on 149 as the home team, replying to Sri Lanka's mammoth first innings total of 644-7, were 296-3 at stumps.
Misbah-ul-Haq was the other not out batsman at stumps with 20.
Pakistan need another 149 runs to avoid follow-on.
While the first two days belonged to Sri Lankan captain Mahela Jayawardene, who smashed a double hundred and was associated in a world record stand of 437, Younus was the hero on the third day.
Younus, leading Pakistan for the first time after he replaced Shoaib Malik following Pakistan's 2-1 one-day defeat against Sri Lanka last month -- his fifth Test as captain overall -- truly played a captain's knock.
He played the twin-pace and twin-spin Sri Lankan bowling attack with consummate ease, and only looked in bother twice when he survived a confident leg-before shout against Ajantha Mendis when on 23.
Then on 92, Tillakaratne Dilshan failed to hold onto a diving catch off a miscued drive, with the bowler again being Mendis.
Younus pushed Sri Lankan paceman Dilhara towards third man for two to complete his century after four hours and five minutes of defiant batting -- his fourth against Sri Lanka.
He hit 17 boundaries during his six hour, 11 minute stay at the crease, holding one end intact.
Younus found an able ally in Malik as they put on 149 for the third wicket after opener Khurram Manzoor fell for 27 in the first session.
Resuming at 44-1, Manzoor and Younus took the score to 78 when Sri Lankan spinner Ajantha Mendis got the breakthrough, forcing Manzoor to edge to wicket-keeper Prasanna Jayawardene who took a straightforward catch.
Malik, who hit seven boundaries during his supportive 168-ball knock, was run out soon after tea when he failed to beat a direct throw from mid-off by Muttiah Muralitharan, while taking a quick single.
Just like the Pakistani bowlers, Sri Lanka's twin-pace and twin-spin attack toiled on an unresponsive National Stadium pitch.
Both Younus and Malik occasionally jumped out to smother the little spin and hit over the top as Muralitharan failed to add to the single wicket he took by dismissing opener Salman Butt on Sunday.
Muralitharan finished with 1-92 off 34 overs, while Mendis took 1-78 in his 35 overs.
(Article: Copyright © 2009 AFP)
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