Pakistan seize control thanks to Taufeeq 236

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Taufeeq Umar on Thursday became the first Pakistani opener in almost 20 years to score a double-century as the 'hosts' secured command of the first Test in Abu Dhabi.

Taufeeq Umar on Thursday became the first Pakistani opener in almost 20 years to score a double-century as the 'hosts' secured command of the first Test in Abu Dhabi.

Aamer Sohail achieved the feat against England at Old Trafford in 1992, but Thursday belonged entirely to the talented Taufeeq as Sri Lanka resigned to the remarkably easy batting conditions.

No swing nor seam movement and the truest bounce across the Sheikh Zayed Stadium pitch afforded the visiting attack no help whatsoever, with Taufeeq and company cashing in accordingly.

Having moved through his sixth Test ton, highest Test score and best first-class score, the left-hander made his 11-plus hours at the crease count to the tune of a maiden double-ton when he slapped his 459th delivery to the midwicket fence. Raising his bat to the Pakistan dressing room and then kissing the ground in appreciation, the relief on the 30-year-old's face to have stood tall for the long haul was clear.

The mainstay across an 82-run stand with Younis Khan (33), 76-run alliance with Misbah-ul-Haq (46) and 75-run partnership alongside Asad Shafiq (26 not out), there was no getting away from Umar's form for the Sri Lankans. Despite their desperation, they never looked to any more than five bowlers, with spinner Rangana Herath's 61.4 overs testament to how trying the bowling conditions were. Toward the end of his mammoth stretch, the left-arm slow bowler was merely churning them out into the leg-stump rough in the hope of error from the double-centurion.

It took a mix-up with Shafiq, however, to end the opener's record-breaking stay at the crease, with Umar ultimately run out for 236 from 496 deliveries, just 17 fours and a six included. With a 314-run lead in the bag, the declaration promptly followed at 511 for six.

While Herath was able to add the scalps of Misbah – given out caught behind by Tony Hill despite the ball glancing the right-hander's sleeve rather than the bat – and Umar Gul to his removal of Mohammad Hafeez on day two, seamer Chanaka Welegedera made do with Ali and Younis as his victims. While Hill was not without fault, neither were Sri Lanka – Prassana Jayawardene and Mahela Jayawardene both put down sharp chances that could've changed the one-sided complexion of the score entirely.

Sri Lanka, skittled for a mere 197 in their first innings, failed to weather the last 10 overs of the day without losing a wicket. Tharanga Paranavitana was adjudged lbw by Hill for a first-bal duck, but again the umpire seemed in the wrong as the angle of the delivery had it darting past the off-stump by a considerable margin.

Kumar Sangakarra and Lahiru Thirimanne made sure there was no further theatre to the day, finishing on 27 not out and 20 not out respectively in a reply of 47 for one. Still 267 runs in the red, the left-handed duo will have to dig even deeper for their side come Friday.

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