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Hafeez, Shehzad hit 50s to guide Pakistan to 118-1

January 4, 2014

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Mohammad Hafeez and Ahmed Shehzad foiled Sri Lanka’s bid for victory with unbeaten half centuries as Pakistan reached 118-1 at tea and pushed the first test toward a likely draw on the final day on Saturday.

Sri Lanka set Pakistan a daunting target of 302 runs in a possible 67 overs before declaring their second innings at 480-5 half an hour before lunch.

Paceman Suranga Lakmal had Khurram Manzoor caught behind soon after the break, but Hafeez (56 not out) and Ahmed Shehzad (53 not out) were hardly fazed on a batting-friendly wicket in an unbroken 94-run stand.

It’s unlikely Pakistan will push for victory in the possible remaining 32 overs with 184 runs still needed. Pakistan’s best ever successful fourth innings run-chase was 315-9 it scored to beat Australia at Karachi in 1994.

Hafeez was recalled to the test matches after he scored three centuries in Pakistan’s 3-2 victory in the one-day series against Sri Lanka last month.

He continued his rich form by smashing seven boundaries in his test comeback fifty off 68 balls. He raised his first half century after 11 test innings by hitting debutant offspinner Sachithra Senanayake for two successive boundaries.

Shehzad also raised a half century with seven boundaries in his debut test just before tea by cutting Rangana Herath to third man boundary.

Resuming day five at 420-5, captain Angelo Mathews (157 not out) and Prasanna Jayawardene (63 not out) frustrated Pakistan’s bowlers for another 1 ½ hours to extend their partnership to 156 runs.

Mathews, who batted the entire fourth day, faced 343 balls and hit 16 fours and a six. The only blemish in his career-best knock came on 138 when Shehzad dropped a difficult catch off a top-edged reverse sweep.

Jayawardene, 48 overnight, completed his half century with a pulled boundary off Bilawal Bhatti in the second over of the day, but Pakistan made sure Sri Lanka did not compile quick runs before Mathews finally declared half an hour before lunch. Jayawardene faced 169 balls and hit six fours and a six.

Mathews revived Sri Lanka with a brilliant 138-run fourth wicket stand with his deputy Dinesh Chandimal (89) on the fourth day after they were only ahead by 11 runs by the third day’s play and had lost the top four batsmen.

Pakistan bowlers struggled to get through the defenses of Mathews with Junaid Khan taking 3-93 and Bilawal Bhatti 2-146.

Ajmal bowled 49 overs but returned wicket-less for only the fifth time in an innings of his 31-test career, conceding 115 runs.

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