DUBAI, Monday: Sri Lanka’s bid for victory in the second Test was thwarted by Pakistan’s sixth wicket pair Asad Shafiq and skipper Sarfraz Ahmed who put together an unfinished record partnership of 146 to carry their team to within 119 runs from winning the Test and levelling the two-match series one-all.
Sri Lanka won the first Test by 21 runs at Abu Dhabi.
By stumps on the fourth day Pakistan chasing a target of 317 were 198 for five wickets with Shafiq unbeaten on 86 scored off 141 balls (8 fours) and Sarfraz on 57 not out off 113 balls (4 fours).
Both batsmen were missed at forward short leg by Kusal Mendis off successive deliveries from Dilruwan Perera, Shafiq at 27 and Sarfraz at 22. Sri Lanka may have to pay for it dearly if Pakistan are to go and win this match. Pakistan at that point were 100-5 and struggling to save the Test.
The pair batted right throughout the final session after Sri Lanka reduced Pakistan to 62-5 at the dinner break and surpassed their own record against Sri Lanka of 139 at Galle in 2015.
What Shafiq and Sarfraz brought to the middle was the positivity of their batting which was lacking from the Pakistan top order. Opener Shan Masood was the main offender hanging around for 163 minutes and 101 balls for 21.
It was a fine fight back by Pakistan that has pushed the Test into the fifth and final day and opened up the prospect of an exciting finish to the series.
Sri Lanka were of course greatly handicapped as they did not have the luxury of bowling with the new ball under lights. Wahab Riaz bowled quite effectively with it during Sri Lanka second innings of the third day.
With the ball gone soft Shafiq and Sarfraz had no difficulty in playing the Lankan bowling without any difficulty. Perera proved the most successful of Sri Lanka’s bowlers finishing the day with 3 for 76 while Herath who wreaked havoc in the Abu Dhabi Test was wicketless conceding 53 runs off 19 overs.
Pakistan has not lost a Test series in the UAE since they first made it their home base in 2010 winning five and drawing four of the nine series played so far. Sri Lanka’s second innings folded up for a disappointing 96 - their third lowest total against Pakistan and the fourth lowest total in UAE and the lowest at Dubai.
There was not much resistance from the remaining five Sri Lankan wickets that lasted just over an hour adding 62 runs to the overnight score of 34-5.
A lot was expected from Kusal Mendis who has not played an innings of promise in the series so far but he managed a top score of 29 before being ninth out top edging a sweep shot to wicket-keeper Sarfraz Ahmed to provide Haris Sohail the second of three wickets in the only over he bowled in the innings.
Sohail also accounted for Herath (17) and Pradeep (0) to become the first bowler in Test history to take three wickets in the only over he has bowled in the innings.
Riaz and Yasir added a wicket apiece to their overnight tally to finish with 4 for 41 and 2/47 respectively, but the extensive damage was done by Sohail who nearly outdid the good work of Riaz who bowled with a lot of fire for his four wickets. He more than compensated for the absence of Pakistan’s key bowler Mohammad Amir who did not take the field due to a shin injury.