Manzoor, Yousuf rescue Pakistan

COLOMBO: Khurram Manzoor and Mohammad Yousuf narrowly missed scoring centuries as they led Pakistan’s recovery on the opening day of the final cricket Test against Sri Lanka here today.

Pakistan, sent in to bat, collapsed to 34-2 within the first hour as left-arm seamer Thilan Thushara grabbed two wickets in four balls. Manzoor (93) and Yousuf (90) lifted the tourists with a 167-run partnership for the third wicket as Pakistan moved to 289-7 by stumps.

Manzoor, a 23-year-old from Karachi, fell short of his maiden Test century in only his fifth match, while Yousuf missed his 25th ton after the pair had stayed together for more than a session. Shoaib Malik (45) and Misbah-ul Haq (27) put on 75 for the fifth wicket to carry the total to 285-4 before the second new ball taken shortly before stumps claimed three wickets.

Thushara trapped Malik leg-before for his third wicket of the day, before Nuwan Kulasekera had Misbah caught behind and bowled Umar Gul to open up the Pakistan tail. Pakistan are hoping to deny Sri Lanka a clean sweep of the series after losing the first Test in Galle and the second at the P Sara Oval here in three days.

Openers Fawad Alam and Manzoor had put on 34 within the first hour when Thushara struck twice in his third over. Left-handed Alam, who hit a brilliant 168 on debut in the previous Test, made 16 when he edged Thushara to wicket-keeper Tillakaratne Dilshan.

Three balls later, Younus chopped a delivery wide of the off-stump on to his stumps after making two. It was left to the retiring Chaminda Vaas to break the threatening third-wicket stand after tea when he had Manzoor edging a catch to Mahela Jayawardene in the slips.

Vaas, 35, who was ignored for the first two matches, replaced spinner Ajantha Mendis in the team a day after saying he will retire from Test cricket once the series has ended. Yousuf himself departed three overs later in unfortunate circumstances when he was run out attempting a second run following an overthrow.

Yousuf drove Thushara to mid-off and easily completed a single — his 7,000th Test run from 82 matches — even as the throw from the fielder missed the mark and the ball sped to the outfield. Yousuf tried to take a second run, but this time failed to beat Vaas’ return into the wicket-keeper’s gloves as Misbah hesitated mid-pitch.