KARACHI        -          Openers Shan Masood and Abid Ali combined for a mammoth 278-run partnership to propel Pakistan to a 315-run lead by the end of third day's play in the second Test against Sri Lanka here at National Stadium.

Lahiru Kumara managed to get past both, but that wasn't before they had brought up their hundreds and registered Pakistan's second highest opening stand in Test cricket, 20 short of Aamer Sohail and Ijaz Ahmed's 298-run association against West Indies back in 1997 at the same venue.

The partnership is also the third highest for the first wicket in the third innings of a Test match, by some margin beating Pakistan's previous record of 219 set by Imran Nazir and Mohammad Wasim in 2000 at Bridgetown.

Resuming at their overnight score of 57/0, both batsmen gave Sri Lanka a run-around, adding 51 in the first twelve overs of the day. Abid hit two fours in three balls off Lasith Embuldeniya in the 22nd over of the innings, the second of which took Pakistan into the lead. Two balls later, the right-hander brought up his fifty with a couple into the off-side.

Masood was relatively watchful early on, but soon launched off-spinner Dilruwan Perera for a six down the ground and two overs later, passed 1000 Test runs with a brace. The dominance continued as Pakistan stood at 175/0 after the first session. Abid brought up his second consecutive Test ton in the fourth over post lunch, and Masood followed him four overs later, getting to his first in four years.

Kumara bounced out Masood in the last over before tea, with the batsman mistiming a pull to Oshada Fernando at deep mid-wicket when on 135. He could have had a second soon after, but Fernando dropped a sitter at short-leg to give Azhar Ali a reprieve on 14. Ali capitalised on the opportunity and joined Abid for a 77-run stand, before the latter was trapped leg-before by Kumara at 174. The opener's 281-ball stay included 21 fours as well as one maximum.

The skipper meanwhile went past fifty for the first time in 14 innings and remained unbeaten at 57 in the company of Babar Azam (22*) at the end of day's play. Pakistan were 395/2 at stumps, 315 ahead in their second innings.

With this ton, Abid became the ninth batsman and first Pakistani in the history of Test cricket to achieve the feat of consecutive hundreds in their first two Tests. India's Mohammad Azharuddin scored three hundreds in his first three Tests after making his debut against England at home in December 1984. William Ponsford, Doug Walters and Greg Blewett of Australia, Sourav Ganguly and Rohit Sharma of India, Alvin Kallicharran of the West Indies and Jimmy Neesham of New Zealand are the others who hit two consecutive centuries in their first two Tests.

“The domestic cricket I have played has served me well, and it was all for this moment," Abid said. “Wherever I have gone, whichever region or department I played for gave me the confidence to play well today. In the 105 first-class matches I played before this game, all I was focused on was I had to take my chance whenever I was given one. I was intent on being positive, and that's always the way I look to play.”

The first Test in Rawalpindi was ended in a draw. The two-match series, part of the World Test Championship, marks Pakistan’s first Tests on home soil since the 2009 militant attack on Sri Lanka’s team bus in Lahore.

 

278The opening partnership between Abid Ali and Shan Masood, which is the second-biggest for Pakistan in Tests. The only bigger stand is 298 added by Aamer Sohail and Ijaz Ahmed versus West Indies at Karachi in 1997. In fact, the top three opening stands for Pakistan have all come in at Karachi's National Stadium.

2Number of higher opening stands in the third innings of Tests than the one between Abid and Masood in this Test. The highest is 312 between Imrul Kayes and Tamim Iqbal against Pakistan in Khulna in 2015.

0Number of bigger opening stands against Sri Lanka than the 278-run partnership between Abid and Masood. The previous biggest was 255 between Matthew Hayden and Justin Langer at Cairns in 2004.

3Instances of both Pakistan openers scoring centuries in the same Test innings. The previous occasion before Abid and Masood was back in 2001 when Saeed Anwar and Taufeeq Umar scored hundreds against Bangladesh in Multan.

9Number of batsmen to score centuries in each of their first two matches of Test career. Abid achieved the feat, which no other Pakistan had achieved before. However, Pakistan's Yasir Hameed scored centuries in both innings on debut and Wajahatullah Wasti scored hundreds in both innings of his second Test, making it two hundreds in their first two Tests.

321Abid's run-tally after his first three Test innings (109*, 38 and 174)–which is the most by a Pakistan batsman after three innings and the third-most overall. Tip Foster leads the list with 355 runs, followed by Lawrence Rowe (336).