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Misbah helps Pak rebuild

Dubai: Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq fell just short of his sixth Test century but his team clung on to their slim hopes of salvaging the second Test against Sri Lanka after a stirring rearguard action, in Dubai, on Saturday.

Pakistan resumed the fourth day’s play trailing Sri Lanka by 91 runs with seven wickets in hand but Misbah’s dogged 97 and wicket-keeper Sarfraz Ahmed’s defiant unbeaten 70 powered them to 330 for seven when heavy drizzle forced an early close.

Ahmed and Saeed Ajmal (seven), whose bowling on the final day could prove crucial, will return on Sunday hoping to stretch the team’s 107-run lead.

Resuming on 132 for three, the responsibility for erasing the deficit was on two of Pakistan’s senior batsmen, Misbah and Younus Khan.

The duo adopted contrasting approaches with Younus’ fluency complimented by Misbah’s doggedness which frustrated the Sri Lankans for nearly an hour as Misbah needed 37 deliveries to score his first run of the day.

Younus, who stood well outside the crease to negate any swing, hit Suranga Lakmal through extra cover for the first boundary of the day but runs were not easy to come by.

The former Pakistan captain was lured in by the width of a Lakmal delivery and miscued a cut shot to give Prasanna Jayawardene his fourth catch of the innings.

Younus, who made a fluent 77 off 173 balls with five boundaries, added 129 for the fourth wicket with Misbah who looked unperturbed by the slow run rate.

Misbah added 52 more runs with Asad Shafiq (23) who fell to Shaminda Eranga with the new ball. The 39-year-old right-handed batsman occasionally broke the shackles, hitting Rangana Herath’s first ball of the day to the mid-wicket boundary but the stocky left-arm spinner had the last laugh.