Veteran Younis Khan came to the fore and struck an unbeaten century to rescue Pakistan on the opening day of the first Test match against Sri Lanka at the Galle International Cricket Stadium on Wednesday.
Younis was at his typical best and helped Pakistan recover from early jolts provided by the Lankan seamers. The 36-year-old played a flawless inning and made his 24th Test Ton to help the visitors reach 261 for four at stumps.
The former skipper is just one shy from Inzamam-ul-Haq's record of 25 Test centuries and equal to former batsman Mohammad Yusuf. When Younis arrived at the crease, Pakistan were reeling at 19 for two. However, he made superb century stands with Misbah-ul-Haq and Asad Shafiq to save his team.
"You know Younis, how good he is," Pakistan head coach Waqar Younis said. "I think this is what the coach and captain would want, and he is a man who (you can count on) to rescue the team and as usual he played superbly. With the (runs today) he broke another record getting up among the greatest players Pakistan have produced. Indeed a superb knock from him today."
Earlier, Pakistan skipper Misbah made a brave decision of batting first under overcast conditions and on a pitch that was under covers for quite a long time. Pakistan openers, however, failed to justify their captain's decision and went to the pavilion inside six overs.
Pacer Dhammika Prasad and Shaminda Eranga got the new ball talking and troubled the batsmen with pace and movement. Ahmed Shahzad (4) was first to go when he chopped one on the stumps. Prasad got his second when Khurram Manzoor (3) was trapped in front.
Pakistan batsmen were clueless in front of Prasad, as he continuously asked questions with the red cherry. Azhar Ali, in particular, was groping and despite early struggles he played some exquisite cover drives.
Ali fell on Rangana Herath, who was getting turned and bounced off the pitch, which he missed in the series against South Africa. After Ali's departure, Younis and Misbah came to the rescue and stitched a neat 100 runs partnership for the fourth wicket.
Herath again struck for the Islanders and got Misbah (31) out but Younis (133 not out) continued his innings and made an unbeaten 105-run stand with Shafiq (55 not out).
"When it rains at certain grounds and the ground is covered for long time there is bound to be some juice in the wicket," Waqar said. "With such conditions there are always doubts and thoughts about what exactly we should do but it was a brave move by the management and by the captain."
"It wasn't an easy pitch to start with but the guys stuck in and once things got easier we made full use of it," he added.
Line-ups: Sri Lanka: Upul Tharanga, Kaushal Silva, Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene, Angelo Mathews (c), Kithuruwan Vithanage, Niroshan Dickwella, Rangana Herath, Dilruwan Perera, Shaminda Eranga and Dhammika Prasad.
Pakistan: Khurram Manzoor, Ahmed Shehzad, Azhar Ali, Younis Khan, Misbah-ul-Haq (c), Asad Shafiq, Sarfraz Ahmed, Mohammad Talha, Abdur Rehman, Saeed Ajmal and Junaid Khan.
Where to Watch Live
The first Test, Day 2 is scheduled for 10:00 am local (10:00 am IST, 4:30 am GMT) start with live coverage on Ten Cricket and Ten HD in India. Catch ball-by-ball update of the match online HERE. Catch the action live on TV on Ten Sports in Sri Lanka, while viewers can also live stream the action HERE.