Abdullah Shafique has guided Pakistan to a remarkable four-wicket victory over Sri Lanka in Galle, scoring an unbeaten 160 to help the visitors chase down 342 on Wednesday.
Pakistan peeled off the intimidating target in 127.2 overs at Galle International Stadium to take a 1-0 lead in the two-Test series.
It ranked as Pakistan’s second-largest successful run chase in Test history and the largest successful run chase in Galle.
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Shafique survived 408 deliveries at the crease, batting for 524 minutes to register his second Test century.
The 22-year-old opener, playing in just his sixth Test match, only struck eight boundaries during the marathon knock, soaking up deliveries and rotating the strike when necessary.
It was the third-largest score by a Pakistani cricketer in the fourth innings of a Test match, bettered only by Babar Azam’s 196 against Australia earlier this year and Younis Khan’s 171 not out against Sri Lanka in 2015.
He also became the first cricketer in Test history to bat more than 500 minutes in a successful run chase.
The Evening Standard’s Will Macpherson called it an “absolutely ridiculous knock”, while Pakistan seamer Wahab Riaz branded it a “knock of brilliance”.
Shafique and captain Azam, who scored a crucial century in the first innings, combined for a 101-run partnership for the third wicket to eradicate a large chunk of the deficit.
Azam was eventually dismissed by left-arm spinner Prabath Jayasuriya, who earlier became the third bowler in Test history to claim five wickets in each of his first three innings, for 55 before wicketkeeper Mohammad Rizwan smacked 40 to put Pakistan in a commanding position.
But three quick scalps in the afternoon session brought the contest back to life, with Pakistan still requiring 39 runs with four wickets in hand.
Shafique was then gifted an extra life on 151 when Kasun Rajitha dropped a regulation chance at deep square leg in the 123rd over.
And a scare went through the Pakistan camp when rain started falling at Galle with 11 runs still required, forcing a 45-minute delay.
But Shafique and all-rounder Mohammad Nawaz, who finished unbeaten on 19, managed to complete a stunning comeback for the Pakistanis, who at one point were 7/85 in the first innings.
Most deliveries faced in the fourth innings of a Test match
492 — Mike Atherton (ENG) vs RSA, Nov 1995
462 — Herbert Sutcliffe (ENG) vs AUS, Dec 1928
443 — Sunil Gavaskar (IND) vs ENG, Aug 1979
425 — Babar Azam (PAK) vs AUS, Mar 2022
408 — Abdullah Shafique (PAK) vs SL, Jul 2022
Shafique has been a revelation with the bat since making his Test debut against Bangladesh last year, scoring two centuries and four fifties in six matches.
The right-hander currently averages 80.00 at Test level — the only cricketer in history to average more is the legendary Sir Donald Bradman (minimum 10 innings).
The second Test between Sri Lanka and Pakistan will get underway at Galle International Stadium on Sunday, with the first ball scheduled for 2.30pm AEST.
Most individual runs after six Test matches
912 — Sunil Gavaskar (IND)
862 — Don Bradman (AUS)
730 — George Headley (WI)
720 — Abdullah Shafique (PAK)
695 — Frank Worrell (WI)