Hafeez, Umar hit half-centuries as Pakistan set to take first-innings lead

Mohammad Hafeez (L) and Taufeeq Umar in action during the second day AFP

Abu Dhabi: Oct 19, 2011

Openers Mohammad Hafeez and Taufiq Umar notched half-centuries to take Pakistan to 174-1 at tea on the second day of the opening test against Sri Lanka at Abu Dhabi stadium on Wednesday.

The pair put Pakistan, replying to Sri Lankan first-innings score of 197, on the right track with a solid 127-run stand before Hafeez (75) fell in the second over after the lunch break, leg-before to left-arm spinner Rangana Herath.

At the tea break, Umar was unbeaten on a sedate 65 and with him Azhar Ali on 26 not out during their snail-paced unbroken second wicket stand of 56. Pakistan trail Sri Lanka by 23 runs with nine wickets in hand.

Hafeez and Umar frustrated the Sri Lankan bowlers and batted without any trouble after Pakistan resumed the day at 27-0.

Hafeez hit eight boundaries and a six during his confident knock.

Sri Lanka spurned a chance to get Azhar out, when experienced Mahela Jayawardene dropped a catch in the slips off Herath when the right-hander was only seven.

Umar reached his 12th half-century with a sharp single, and has so far hit only three boundaries as Pakistan scored only 59 in the second session.

Umar was more cautious as Sri Lanka introduced spinners Rangana Herath and Tillakaratne Dilshan from both ends. They bowled four maiden overs between them with tight line and length, but did not get much turn.

Hafeez then broke the deadlock in scoring, jumping out of his crease to hit Herath over long-off for a six and then slashed towards third man to bring his fifth Test half-century.

He then swept the same bowler for two to bring up Pakistan’s 100. Hafeez has so far hit eight boundaries and a six during his 121-ball knock.

Sri Lanka’s three-pronged pace attack and spinners failed to give any trouble to the Pakistani openers on a pitch which had some grass on the first day.

The remaining two Tests in the series will be played in Dubai (October 26-30) and Sharjah (November 3-7). The Tests will be followed by five one-day and a Twenty20 international. (AFP)

Brief Score: Sri Lanka 197 (Tharanga Paranavitana 37, Mahela Jayawardene 28; Junaid Khan 5 for 38, Saeed Ajmal 2 for 44) lead Pakistan 174 for 1 (Taufeeq Umar 76*, Mohammad Hafeez 75; Rangana Herath 1 for 54) by 23 runs.

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