Cricket News By TODAYLIVESCORE.INFO - Abdullah Shafique hits ton as Pakistan close in. Abdullah Shafique celebrating his second Test century.
Abdullah Shafique celebrating his second Test century.
In what turned out to be an engrossing fourth day's play at Galle, the Pakistan camp would be the happier side of the two at stumps as they ended up on 222/3, still needing 120 runs to overhaul the target. Abdullah Shafique was the star performer for the tourists, remaining unbeaten on 112.
After a below par show in the first two sessions, the pressure was on Sri Lanka's spinners in the evening session to make the breakthroughs. To their credit, the spin trio of Prabath Jayasuriya, Maheesh Theekshana and Ramesh Mendis hung in there by keeping it relatively tight in the last session. But could only pick up one scalp, although it turned out to be an important one of Babar Azam (55).
Through the course of the session, the spin trio did come close to picking up the wicket Shafique as well. In the very first over after the break, the ball fell in front of the fielder stationed at forward short leg, with Shafique having a narrow escape. Jayasuriya and Theekshana combined to beat the opener a few times. The off-spinner's carrom ball in particular seemed to be troubling Shafique a bit. Eventually, in the 72nd over, Shafique completed a well-measured hundred with a double of Theekshana.
Just when it felt as if Pakistan would end the day with both the set batters at the crease, Babar was done in by a delivery from Jayasuriya that hit the foot-holes to turn and rattle the timber. Shafique, in the company of Mohammad Rizwan, negotiated the last few overs and will resume the innings tomorrow.
The day had started with Sri Lanka finiding themselves in a strong position on a track that is assisting the spinners. Even though Dinesh Chandimal (94 not out) couldn't complete his century, his innings had helped the home side to set a sizeable target of 342. Pakistan's openers – Imam-ul-Haq and Shafique – had also looked tentative in the early exchanges.
Shafique and Imam then looked to play with more intent, bringing out the lofted shot, flick and the occasional cut and drive to collect crucial runs while facing the spinners and Rajitha. In the afternoon, Sri Lanka did pick up two wickets but couldn't stem the run flow. Imam was stumped on the back of some sharp glove-work by Niroshan Dickwella while Azhar Ali was caught at slip off Jayasuriya for six. Jayasuriya then bowled a few dragged down deliveries as the in-form Babar chased in by cracking a few pulls.
Pakistan would fancy their chances of taking a 1-0 lead. Meanwhile, the hosts would hope the odd ball would kick/bite a little more with the second new ball, helping the spinners to set the tone on the last day.
Brief Scores: Sri Lanka 222 and 337 (Dinesh Chandimal 94*, Kusal Mendis 76; Mohammad Nawaz 5-88) lead Pakistan 218 and 222/3 (Abdullah Shafique 112*; Prabath Jayasuriya 2-89) by 119 runs