Tuesday, February 24, 2009

SRILANKA VS PAKISTAN 1st TEST:Younis announces arrival as skipper with triple ton

Younis Khan smashed his maiden triple hundred to steer Pakistan to safety with a stunning display of grit and application as the first cricket Test against Sri Lanka headed for a tame draw here on Tuesday.Relying on Younis's marathon unbeaten 306 knock, Pakistan not only avoided the ignominy of a follow on but also ensured that they came out of the match unscathed as the hosts were just 70 runs behind Sri Lanka's mammoth first innings total of 644 for seven at the end of the fourth dayYounus, the newly appointed captain, batted through for the second consecutive day, having occupied the crease for 795 minutes. His knock contained 27 boundaries and four sixes.Younus reached the triple century milestone via a risky shot when he reverse sweeped off-spinner Muttiah Muralithran towards third man and ran three along with stumper Kamran Akmal who remained unbeaten on 27 at close of play.The skipper kissed the pitch after the historic moment, which was created before a sparse crowd including some school students.

Only two Pakistani cricketers have scored a triple century till date with the last one being former captain Inzamam-ul Haq, who made 329 against New Zealand at Lahore in 2002.Hanif Mohammed was first Pakistani to reach the magic figure when he scored 337 against the West Indies way back in 1958 at Bridgetown.Younus also became only the sixth player from his country to amass over 5000 Test runs when he reached 184. A new sort of history was created in the Test match, first for Pakistan in 14 months, as it was for the first time that rival captains had a double and triple hundred against their names in the same match.Sri Lankan captain Mahela Jayawardene had made 240 runs.Younus batted with amazing patience and steely resolve and kept Lankan bowlers at bay for the second consecutive day.

He shared a crucial 130-run stand for the fourth wicket with Misbah ul-Haq in the first session and forged a 174-run partnership with Faisal Iqbal for the fifth wicket to ensure Pakistan avoid the follow on and reach near the Sri Lankan total.Beginning the fourth day at 296 for three, Younus and Haq had a challenging task of continuing with the good work and erase the deficit.The duo did not disappoint their camp as they remained unseparated almost thorugh the opening session but in the fag end Misabh departed when he was trapped by pacer Dilhara Fernando.He scored 42 runs with the help of three fours and a six.The skipper then found another able ally in Iqbal, who batted for almost three hours for his 57 runs and saw off the second session.Iqbal faced 141 balls and helped himself with six shots to the fence before being trapped by Jayawardene when he missed a pull shot and was caught plumb. Younus and Akmal (27) were at the wicket and will resume Pakistani innings tomorrow.The Pakistani skipper is still 95-runs away from breaking Brian Lara's world record of 400 and it would require another day of sheer hard work and patience if Younus has to eclipse that.

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