Babar’s second consecutive ton helps Pakistan reach 219

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Abu Dhabi

Babar Azam scored a second successive century to lift Pakistan to 219 for 9 in the second day-night international against Sri Lanka in Abu Dhabi on Monday.
The 23-year-old knocked a fighting 133-ball 101 and added an invaluable 109 in a seventh-wicket stand with Shadab Khan (52 not out) after Pakistan were struggling at 101 for 6 on a sluggish Sheikh Zayed Stadium pitch.
Azam followed up his 103 which anchored Pakistan´s 83-run win in the first game in Dubai on Friday, giving them a 1-0 lead in the five-match series.
Pakistan, who won the toss and batted, found the going tough as they lost half the side at the end of 20 overs for just 79, but Azam and Shadab led the fightback.
Azam brought up his seventh one-day hundred off 130 balls – his fourth this year – with a sharp double in the 49th over.
Shadab, who scored 14 not out in his only previous innings, played a support role during which he hit just one boundary off 68 balls.
Sri Lankan new-ball bowlers Lahiru Gamage (4-57) and Suranga Lakmal (1-42) made early inroads with three wickets inside first power-play of ten overs.
Gamage had Fakhar Zaman dismissed for 11 and Mohammad Hafeez for eight while Lakmal dismissed out-of-form Ahmed Shehzad for eight.
Medium pacer Thisara Perera (2-34) then struck twice, removing Shoaib Malik (11) and Sarfraz Ahmed (five) to leave Pakistan in a spot of bother.
Azam added 22 for the sixth wicket with Imad Wasim (ten) before his stand with Shadab gave Pakistan´s total some respectability.
Pakistan, nursing a 2-0 Test whitewash against Sri Lanka, avenged the defeat by outclassing the tourists with an 83-run win in the ODI opener on Friday.
Shoaib Malik´s swashbuckling 61-ball 81 and a return to form 103 by Babar Malik lifted Pakistan to 292-6 in the first ODI in Dubai, before they kept Sri Lanka to 209-8.
The match was Pakistan´s first since winning the Champions Trophy in England in June this year.
Fast-rising paceman Hasan Ali — declared player of the Champions trophy with 13 wickets — finished with 3-36 while left-armer Rumman Raees took 3-49 to derail Sri Lanka.
Pakistan will retain the same combination despite opener Ahmed Shehzad failing to score on Friday.
Sri Lanka, meanwhile, have been at their worst, winning just four ODIs all year and now having lost eight in a row.
“We have not been very good in this format for a while now,” said Pothas, a former South African wicket-keeper. “We have to find answers and find them quick.”
“From a batting point of view, the currency of your batting is runs. If you don´t keep making them, the shop is going to close down at some point. We have to ask the batters to take some responsibility.”
The remaining matches will be played in Abu Dhabi (October 18) and Sharjah (October 20 and 23). The two teams will also play three T20 internationals, two in Abu Dhabi (October 26 and 27) while the last is scheduled for Lahore on October 29.—Agencies

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