Babar Azam completes 10,000 international runs in Galle Test against Sri Lanka

Star batsman hits defiant century after spinners decimate top order in first Test

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Pakistan captain Babar Azam cemented his position as one of the leading batsmen of the modern era as he completed 10,000 runs across all formats on Sunday.

In the first Test against Sri Lanka at Galle, Azam scored a defiant century to rescue the visitors' innings after they had slipped to 85-7 in reply to the islanders' first-innings score of 222.

On the pitch that had ample help for the spinners, the star batsman showed excellent application to keep Pakistan in the match after they looked set to concede a lead of over 100.

From a precarious 85-7 that turned into 112-8, Azam farmed the strike judiciously to score a sensational 119 off 244 balls with 11 fours and two sixes. He was provided excellent support by last batsman Naseem Shah who made five from 52 balls.

The captain's seventh Test century helped Pakistan go from 148-9 to 218 and fall just four short of Sri Lanka's total.

During his innings, Azam also became the 11th Pakistan batsman to accumulate 10,000 runs in international cricket, reaching the milestone in his 228th innings - the fastest from his country to do so.

While Azam led the way with the bat, Sri Lanka spinners powered the hosts. Spinner Prabath Jayasuriya claimed his third successive haul of five or more wickets to leave Pakistan in deep trouble on the second day.

Jayasuriya, who took 12 wickets on debut in a series-levelling Test win over Australia last week at the same venue, six in each innings, mesmerised the batsmen again with his left-arm spin.

Resuming on 24-2 when play started 30 minutes late because of rain, Azhar Ali could only survive three balls before he was trapped lbw by Jayasuriya.

Azam and wicketkeeper-batsman Mohammad Rizwan put on 40 runs for the fourth wicket before off-spinner Ramesh Mendis struck with the score on 64.

Rizwan attempted to flick Mendis away down the leg side but an edge found the wicketkeeper's gloves and he was caught behind for 19.

Debutant Salman Ali Agha's stay lasted just 15 balls before he was trapped lbw by another sliding delivery from Jayasuriya having scored five.

Jayasuriya, 30, then struck on successive deliveries to remove Mohammad Nawaz and Shaheen Shah Afridi before Yasir survived the hat-trick ball with Pakistan on 85-7.

Thereafter, some enterprising batting from Yasir Shah, Hasan Ali and then Shah helped Pakistan get close to Sri Lanka's score.

Updated: July 17, 2022, 11:49 AM