Yousuf returns to int’l fold in style

GALLE: Mohammad Yousuf hit a fluent century on his return to big-time cricket to put Pakistan ahead in the first Test against Sri Lanka here on Sunday.

Yousuf made 112 and Misbah-ul Haq chipped in with 56 as Pakistan, replying to Sri Lanka’s 292, recovered from 80-4 to post 342 in their first innings on the second day. Sri Lanka, trailing by 50 runs, failed to score from the one over bowled by Mohammad Aamer in second innings before stumps were drawn.

Pakistan’s lead left the match evenly poised on a wicket that appeared to have eased out after helping the seamers with bounce and movement on the first day.

Yousuf was playing his first Test match since December 2007 after being banned by the Pakistan board for his involvement with the Indian Cricket League. But the right-hander was rehabilitated with a call-up tour after breaking links with the rebel body and repaid the selectors’ faith with his 24th Test century. The 80-Test veteran hit 11 boundaries en route to his first Test hundred against Sri Lanka when he was run out in the final session.

Sri Lanka were convinced Yousuf should have departed on 57 when he edged left-arm spinner Rangana Herath and the ball carried off the batsman’s bat and pad to makeshift wicket-keeper Tillakaratne Dilshan. Television replays showed Yousuf was out but Australian umpire Daryl Harper turned down the appeal.

Pakistan, who began the day at 15-2, lost two quick wickets before Yousuf and Misbah resurrected the innings by adding 139 for the fifth wicket. When Misbah fell shortly before tea, Shoaib Malik (38) helped Yousuf put on 75 for the sixth wicket.

Kamran Akmal hit 31, but Pakistan lost their last five wickets for 48 runs. Seamer Nuwan Kulasekera finished with 4-71.

Abdur Rauf proved his batting worth as a nightwatchman by scoring 31 of Pakistan’s first 40 runs in the morning session. Rauf put on 50 for the third wicket with skipper Younus Khan when he fell to Kulasekera, caught by Dilshan just before the drinks break.

Dilshan was forced to don the gloves because first choice Prasanna Jayawardene was unavailable due to injury and skipper Kumar Sangakkara, the one-day ‘keeper, preferred to guide the bowlers from the outfield. Dilshan took his second catch four overs later when debutant Angelo Mathews struck in his first over to remove Younus (25).