Mohammad Hafeez roared back to form with a career-best 172 not out as Pakistan made Sri Lanka pay for a failed gamble in the second Test in Colombo on Saturday.
Pakistan, trailing 1-0 in the three-match series, took advantage of Sri Lankan captain Mahela Jayawardene’s surprise decision to field first on a good batting track at the Sinhalese Sports Club.
Hafeez led the Pakistani charge with his fifth Test century — and the first after 10 innings — as the tourists moved to a commanding 334 for one by stumps on Day One.
The Pakistan vice-captain has put on 256 runs for the unbroken second wicket with Azhar Ali (92 not out) after sharing an opening stand of 78 with Taufeeq Umar (65).
It was the first time since making 379-4 against India in Faisalabad in 2006 that Pakistan scored over 300 runs on the first day of a Test match.
The century helped Hafeez overcome the disappointment of losing the first Test in Galle by 209 runs, where he led Pakistan in the absence of the banned Misbah-ul Haq.
The all-rounder had been under pressure to retain his place in the Test side after a barren run of 10 innings since making his previous best of 143 against Bangladesh in Chittagong last year.
But Hafeez answered his critics in style, smashing 18 boundaries and a six off Suraj Randiv that sailed over the mid-wicket fence.
“Finally I did something good for my team,” a relieved Hafeez said. “I have been working hard at the nets. It was tough not to be scoring because the top order has to perform in these conditions.
“I as under pressure, but Taufeeq lifted some of it by his superb batting and then Azhar came and gave me solid support. I just needed some luck and it all came good today,” he added.