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Cricket news - Abid Ali's imminent ton-on-debut keeps interest alive in Pindi

Abid Ali could become the first player to score a ton on both ODI & Test debut.

Abid Ali could become the first player to score a ton on both ODI & Test debut.

With more than three days of play lost to inclement weather in Rawalpindi, the sun-bathed fifth and final day of Test cricket's return to Pakistan was all about personal milestones right from the onset. And after Dhananjaya de Silva raised his sixth Test ton in the morning, Abid Ali is steadily marching towards a ton on debut as the hosts headed into Tea at 177 for 2, with the opener unbeaten on 91. Giving him company at the other end was Babar Azam, unbeaten on a rather brisk 47. For the record, Pakistan still trail Sri Lanka by 131 runs.

Abid made a rather confident start to his Test career, continuing his rich vein of form from domestic season, to make a quick impression. He saw through the testing opening overs after losing his partner Shan Masood cheaply, who tamely chipped a full-toss back to extra cover off the bowling of Kasun Rajitha. Abid then took charge, taking an early liking to the fiery pace of Lahiru Kumara and picking up four quick boundaries to get Pakistan going.

He brought up his maiden Test fifty with a brace off Kumara at the stroke of the drinks break. Sri Lanka hit back by taking out the other set batsman, Azhar Ali, with Kumara ending the 87-run second-wicket stand with a short-ball. The Pakistan skipper was caught off guard by the bounce, rushed on the backfoot and lost control of his attempted pull to offer a sitter to the man at midwicket.

Abid then joined hands with Azam to put on another 87-run stand that quickly ate away at Sri Lanka's lead, especially in the final hour leading up to Tea. The visitors brought on their part-timers to induce a breakthrough but were only punished as the third-wicket paid stepped on the accelerator.

Abid, gunning for a rare milestone of a Test century on debut, was served two short and wide deliveries by Kusal Mendis in his first over, which he cut to fetch back to back boundaries and move into his 80s. Azam, meanwhile, showed his class too as he punished every half-volley dished out at him, dispatching it to the fence through the covers to bring up the 50 of the partnership and then Pakistan's 150.

Even as the on-ground audience numbers swell up in Rawalpindi with each passing ball, the game is heading towards a drab ending. The only point of interest left in the game though is if indeed Abid Ali can on to become the first cricketer to notch up hundreds on both ODI and Test debut.

Brief scores: Pakistan (Abid Ali 91*, Babar Azam 47*, Lahiru Kumara 1-32) trail Sri Lanka 308/6 decl. by 131 runs.

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