By our correspondent
GALLE: In March this year Babar Azam crafted a super 196-run match-saving knock against Australia at Karachi. In that innings, which was his best, he was seen batting effortlessly on the track which had a turn and on which others were seen struggling. Babar was found negotiating the ball with extreme ease.
And the best thing is that he plays with the bat. But on Sunday in Galle he engineered a knock, which was again a match-saving effort as it left Sri Lanka gain only four runs lead, was something special, most probably the best he played under pressure and on a much turning deck.
He was seen amazingly skilled and batted under his chin while negotiating left-arm spinner Prabath Jayasuriya who finished with 5-82 in 39 overs. Yes, Babar was more patient and played according to the situation. It proved how a great player he is and the way he batted with the tail-enders was stunning. It was, indeed, a masterclass from Babar, who completed his seventh Test hundred to save Pakistan from a humiliating situation.
At 85 Pakistan’s seventh wicket fell. He was ably backed by Yasir Shah (18 off 56), Hasan Ali (17 off 21) and Naseem Shah who showed a lot of composure and faced 52 balls for his five not out, the support which helped Babar steer Pakistan to almost overcome Sri Lanka’s lead.
Babar smashed 11 fours and two sixes in his 244-ball heroic effort. At stumps Sri Lanka were 36-1 in their second innings, for a lead of 40.
“It was a great innings from Babar who batted under his chin and showed great patience,” Pakistan’s batting coach Mohammad Yousuf said after the second day’s play which was full of struggle for Pakistan whose top and middle order collapsed before Babar batted smartly with the tail-enders to do the job eventually.
“After a long time such an innings was seen. Babar batted so well under pressure and when the pitch was turning and especially the way he batted against Jayasuria who proved too lethal,” said Yousuf, also a former Pakistan captain and one of the greatest batsmen of his era.
“We will now try to bowl Sri Lanka out as soon as possible,” said Yousuf.
Sri Lanka 1st innings 222 all out in 66.1 overs (Dinesh Chandimal 76, Maheesh Theekshana 38, Shaheen Afridi (4-58), 2nd innings 36-1 in 11.5 overs),
Pakistan’s 1st innings 218 all out in 90.5 overs (Babar Azam 119, Mohammad Rizwan 19, Yasir Shah 18, Hasan Ali 17, Prabath Jayasuria 5-82).