Ali ton puts Pakistan in command

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With 10 half-tons resigned to the past, Azhar Ali on Thursday landed his maiden Test century as Pakistan moved to 281 for four and a lead of 42 at stumps on day two of the second Test against Sri Lanka in Dubai.

With 10 half-tons resigned to the past, Azhar Ali on Thursday landed his maiden Test century as Pakistan moved to 281 for four and a lead of 42 at stumps on day two of the second Test against Sri Lanka in Dubai.

Pakistan started the day on 42 without loss, with openers Mohammad Hafeez and Taufeeq Umar happy to defend for the early stages of the morning session despite surviving some nervy moments.

In the 14th over fast bowler Suranga Lakmal should have picked up two wickets, but his team-mates grounded two chances. First Tillakaratne Dilshan dropped Hafeez at cover after the batsman played too early and pushed one into the off-side. Dilshan jumped and managed to get a hand on it as it looped over him, but failed to hold on.

One ball later Lakmal got one to move away off the seam from left-hander Umar, who edged it to first slip for what was a regulation catch. The experienced hands of Mahela Jayawardene, however, grassed the chance.

Umar did eventually go, six overs later, with the score on 63, as he edged Dhammika Prasad to wicketkeeper Kaushal Silva. It was a first Test catch for Silva as Umar returned to the hut for 27.

Hafeez soon followed as he was given out lbw to Prasad for 33 to a ball that jagged back sharply and struck him on the pad. There was some doubt as to whether the ball would have hit the stumps, but not the mind of umpire Tony Hill, who raised the finger.

A fruitful 117-run partnership between Ali and Younis Khan then dominated the second session, with both batsman looking untroubled for the most part as they reached personal milestones.

The pair were cautious in their approach, yet they were still able to rotate the strike with ease when the spin pair of Rangana Herath and Dilshan were bowling.

Ali was first to reach his half-century off 123 balls, a knock which included six boundaries. Khan, meanwhile, was happy with running the ones and twos and only hit two fours before going to his 50 with a massive six off Dilshan. Khan ultimately 55 as he lost concentration and dragged Dilshan's sharp off-spinner onto his stumps shortly before tea.

Misbah-ul-Haq then joined Ali at the crease and the skipper helped the youngster through the nervous 90s. With the close of play in near sight, Ali looked to block out the session, but misjudged a ball from Dilshan which struck him on the pad resulting in his wicket for 100.

At stumps Misbah was unbeaten on 40, while nightwatchman Saeed Ajmal will begin day three on five not out.

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