Colombo: Azhar Ali equaled his career-best score of 157 Sunday as Pakistan took firm control of the second cricket Test against Sri Lanka, reaching 488 for 4 before rain brought an early end to day two.
Only 44 overs of play was possible under heavy overcast conditions with the match also being interrupted for 90 minutes after lunch. Match officials decided on a reduction of seven overs from the 90 overs scheduled for the day but a bigger downpour shortly before a rescheduled tea break resulted in the day's play being called off.
Ali spent more than seven hours at the crease, faced 295 balls and hit nine boundaries before being caught by Nuwan Kulasekara trying to reverse sweep off spin bowler Suraj Randiv. He earlier shared a record 287-run partnership for the second wicket with Mohammad Hafeez who missed out on his maiden double century and was dismissed for 196. It is the highest second wicket stand by any team against Sri Lanka.
Hafeez, who opened the batting, was dismissed in the first session, bowled by left-arm spinner Rangana Herath. He faced 331 balls and hit 20 boundaries and a six. Captain Misbah-ul-Haq was on 29 with Asad Shafiq at the close of play. Herath returned the best bowling figures of 2 for 143 for the home side.
Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene surprised many on Saturday when he decided to bowl first on a placid Sinhalese Sports Club pitch that traditionally helps batting. Team coach Graham Ford conceded that the decision was wrong as the bowlers toiled on an unresponsive track.
Pakistan opener Taufeeq Umar took advantage of good batting conditions and gave his team a good start with a 74-ball 65 including 12 boundaries. His opening partnership with Hafeez was worth 78 runs. He was out caught behind by Prasanna Jayawardene to seamer Anjelo Mathews.