Test cricket's return to Pakistan kicked off on a drab note, with the Rawalpindi match ending in a draw after more than three days of action was lost to inclement weather. Nonetheless, the crowd had enough to cheer on the sun-bathed, but inconsequential, final day where two of their own - Abid Ali and Babar Azam - raised contrasting centuries after Sri Lanka's early declaration following Dhananjaya de Silva's sixth Test hundred. While Abid created a rare record of becoming the first male cricketer to get hundreds on both ODI and Test debut, Babar completed his third Test hundred.
De Silva got to the milestone in the fifth over of the morning, with a gorgeously timed cover drive off Mohammad Abbas, but it was Dilruwan Perera who got Sri Lanka moving. The thick top-edge flew over the slip cordon and into the third-man fence as Perera slashed hard at Abbas's hit-me ball served up early in the day. He then crunched a backfoot cover drive in the bowler's following over to take Sri Lanka to the 300-mark. The visitors declared almost as soon as de Silva got to triple figures, presumably to get their bowlers some time in the middle before the series-deciding second and final Test in Karachi.
Handed the new ball, Kasun Rajitha all but picked up a wicket in his very first over when Shan Masood poked at an away swinging delivery to be caught in gully. The dismissal had to be reversed as the pacer had overstepped. Masood survived but only to be dismissed by the same bowler in his succeeding over, chipping a full toss tamely to Dinesh Chandimal at extra cover for catching practice.
At the other end, Abid made a rather confident start to his Test career as he continued his rich vein of form from domestic season to make a quick impression. He saw through the testing opening overs after losing his partner cheaply. Abid took charge after the early setback and even took a liking to the fiery pace of Lahiru Kumara, off whom he picked up four quick boundaries to get Pakistan going. Together with Azhar Ali, Abid put on an unbroken 51-run partnership for the second wicket as Pakistan went in to Lunch without any further hiccups.
Abid raised his maiden Test fifty with a brace off Kumara at the stroke of the drinks break, but the visitors hit back by taking out Azhar as Kumara ended the 87-run second-wicket stand with a short-ball. The Pakistan skipper was caught off guard by the bounce, rushed on the backfoot and lost control of his attempted pull to offer a sitter to the man at midwicket.
Abid then joined hands with Azam to put on another spectacular partnership that quickly ate away at Sri Lanka's lead, especially in the final hour leading up to Tea. The visitors brought on their part-timers to induce a breakthrough but were only punished as the third-wicket pair stepped on the accelerator. Abid, gunning for a rare milestone of a Test century on debut, was served two short and wide deliveries by Kusal Mendis in his first over, which he cut to fetch back to back boundaries and move into his 80s.
Azam took centrestage from there on, even though the spotlight firmly remained on his partner chasing a rare milestone. He put on a batting masterclass of his own, as he punished every half-volley dished out at him, dispatching it to the fence through the covers to bring up the 50 of the partnership and then Pakistan's 150. Abid was on 59 when Azam joined him in the middle, and yet at a point after Tea it seemed the senior partner might outscore him to his third Test century.
When Abid did raise his debut ton - becoming the first male cricketer to register hundreds in his maiden ODI and Test innings - Babar had already accelerated from 47 at Tea to 73 in the space of eight overs. He showed no signs of slowing down, and went on to notch up Test century No. 3 with another one punch through the covers, off just 118 deliveries, shortly after which the two teams shook hands and shared the World Test Championship points on offer.
Brief scores: Sri Lanka 308/6 decl (Dhananjaya de Silva 102*, Dimuth Karunaratane 59, Shaheen Afridi 2-58, Naseem Shah 2-92) drew with Pakistan 252/2 (Abid Ali 109*, Babar Azam 102*; Kasun Rajitha 1-5, Lahiru Kumara 1-46)