Talented Azhar Ali finally got a maiden Test century as Pakistan piled pressure on Sri Lanka on the second day of the second Test at Dubai cricket stadium here on Thursday.
A three-figure score had eluded the 26-year-old right-hander in the last 14 Tests but he finally reached the mark in the closing stages to guide Pakistan to a dominating 281-4, gaining a lead of 42 over Sri Lankan first innings of 239.
Ali, the only bright spot from last year's fixing-marred tour of England, put on a 94-run stand for the fourth wicket with skipper Misbah-ul Haq (40 not out) and 117 for the third wicket with Younis Khan (55) to lift his team.
Ali finally fell for 100 in the penultimate over of the day, leaving Misbah and nightwatchman Saeed Ajmal (five) at the crease.
Surviving two confident leg-before shouts against paceman Suranga Lakmal, Ali straight drove the same bowler to reach 96 and then at 98 miscued a sweep off left-arm spinner Rangana Herath but got the much needed two runs.
Ali, who reached his century in 309 minutes with nine boundaries, held his bat high in delight before kissing the ground in respect on getting the much-eluded hundred.
Ali's two stands helped Pakistan overcome the early loss of openers Taufiq Umar (27) and Mohammad Hafeez (33) to Sri Lankan paceman Dhammika Prasad who finished with 2-73.
Ali also became the 49th Pakistani batsman to complete 1,000 Test runs when he reached 46.