Pakistan on cusp of victory in Galle Test

Pakistan on cusp of victory in Galle Test

GALLE, July 19: Pakistan are on the cusp of victory after Sri Lanka set them 131 runs target to go one-up on Day 4 of the two-Test ICC World Test Championship series here on Wednesday. Trailing by 149 runs in the first innings and starting the fourth day’s play at 14 for no loss, Sri Lanka were dismissed for 279 in 83.1 overs. At stumps, Pakistan were 48 for three with another 83 runs required for a come-from-behind victory.

Back into the hut were Abdullah Shafique (8) and Shan Masood (7) by Prabth Jayasuriya, while Noman Ali (0) was run-out by a distance at the non-striker’s end after he responded late to Imam-ul-Haq’s call for the second run. Imam-ul-Haq (25) and Babar Azam (6) will resume Pakistan’s run-chase on Thursday morning. Salman Ali Agha, Babar, Imam and Abdullah brought off scintillating catches that contributed in Pakistan containing Sri Lanka to a manageable second innings score. The smartness and sharpness in the field was just another example of how the Pakistan team was improving the standard of its overall cricket.

Salman took an excellent catch of Sri Lanka captain Dimuth Karunaratne (20) off Abrar Ahmed at short-mid-wicket, Babar held a stunning left-handed catch in first slip to dismiss Angelo Mathews (7) off Noman Ali, Imam pulled off a blinder at short-mid-wicket to send Dinesh Chandimal (28) back in the hut off Salman and Abdullah displayed fine reflexes at short-leg to hold onto a brilliant catch of Sadeera Samarawickrama (11) off Salman. Not only was Pakistan impressed with their catching and fielding, Babar also made a near perfect tactical decision by taking the second new ball as soon as it was available with Sri Lanka 261 for seven in 80.1 overs. The decision paid off when Shaheen Shah Afridi dismissed a dangerous looking Dhananjaya de Silva with the fifth ball and then added the scalp of Prabath Jayasuriya (10) three balls later. Abrar wrapped up the innings in the following over when he dismissed Kasun Rajitha (5) as Sri Lanka succumbed to 279 all-out. Abrar finished as the most successful bowler when he followed up his three for 68 with another three for 68, while Noman Ali returned figures of three for 75. Salman picked up two crucial wickets to strengthen his status as a useful all-rounder and Shaheen bagged two wickets with the second new ball.

For Sri Lanka, Dhananjaya followed up his 122 with 82 from 118 balls with 10 fours and two sixes, Nishan Madushka scored a 115-ball 52 with seven fours and a six and Ramesh Mendis contributed a 79-ball 42 with three fours and six. Sri Lanka had made a decent start to the fourth day’s play when they reached 42 for no loss and then 79 for one before slipping to 99 for four. Chandimal and Dhananjaya then added 60 runs off 97 balls for the fifth wicket to take Sri Lanka to 159 for four, PCB reported. After Sri Lanka lost two quick wickets and were reeling at 175 for six, Dhananjaya and Mendis switched 76 runs partnership for the seventh wicket, which turned out to be the last partnership of note.

Sri Lanka’s last four wickets fell for 28 runs. If Pakistan manages to pull off a victory, it will be one of their very best in recent times considering they had slipped to 101 for five in the first innings after Sri Lanka had posted 312 on a pitch that has the reputation of supporting and favouring the spinners. Furthermore, Sri Lanka possessed two outstanding bowlers in Jayasuriya and Mendis, who collectively went for 281 runs in 77.2 overs and claimed eight wickets. Scores in brief (day 4 of 5)

Sri Lanka 312 all out, 95.2 overs (Dhananjaya de Silva 122, Angelo Mathews 64, Sadeera Samarawickrama 36, Dimuth Karunaratne 29; Abrar Ahmed 3-68, Shaheen Shah Afridi 3-86, Naseem Shah 3-90, Salman Ali Agha 1-18) and 279 all out, 83.1 overs (Dhananjaya de Silva 82, Nishan Madushka 52, Ramesh Mendis 42, Dinesh Chandimal 28; Noman Ali 3-75, Abrar Ahmed 3-68, Salman Ali Agha 2-39, Shaheen Shah Afridi 2-64) Pakistan 461 all out, 121.2 overs (Saud Shakeel 208 not out, Salman Ali Agha 83, Shan Masood 39, Noman Ali 25; Ramesh Mendis 5-136, Prabath Jayasuriya 3-145) and 48-3 (Imam-ul-Haq 25 not out, Abdullah Shafique 8, Shan Masood 7, Babar Azam 6 not out, Prabath Jayasuriya 2-12). (UNI)