PALLEKELE (SRI LANKA), July 5 (AFP): Skipper Angelo Mathews battled his way to an unbeaten 77 as Sri Lanka seized the advantage in the series-deciding third and final Test against Pakistan in Pallekele on Sunday.
The hosts gained a first innings lead of 63 runs and then recovered from 35-3 in their second knock to post 228-5 by stumps on a rain-interrupted, but absorbing, third day’s play.
Mathews led from the front against a tiring Pakistani attack, adding 45 for the fourth wicket with Upul Tharanga (48) and 81 for the fifth with Jehan Mubarak (35). Mubarak marked his recall to the Test side after almost eight years with a gutsy 35 before he was caught at short-leg off Yasir Shah in the final session.
Dinesh Chandimal returned to form with 39 not out, helping his captain put on 67 for the sixth wicket before bad light ended the day’s play early.
Sri Lanka will begin the fourth day with a commanding overall lead of 291 runs with five wickets in hand, having a clear advantage on the wearing pitch to break the 1-1 deadlock in the series.
“We need to bat one more session to push Pakistan out of the game,” said Mubarak. “The new ball is due in 10 overs and if we can survive that, we can get a lead of about 380. “There are two more days left and there will be a result either way. Something like 380 will be a good target, I think. It will help us to attack the Pakistan batsmen.”
Sri Lanka 1st innings: 278
Pakistan 1st innings: 215
Sri Lanka 2nd innings: D Karunaratne b Rahat 10, K Silva c Misbah b Ehsan 3, U Tharanga c Azhar b Yasir 48, L Thirimanne b Rahat 0, A Mathews not out 77, J Mubarak c Azhar b Yasir 35, D Chandimal not out 39. Extras: (b4, lb9, w3) 16. Total: (for five wickets, 69.4 overs) 228. Fall of wickets: 1-12, 2-22, 3-35, 4-80, 5-161. Bowling: Rahat 15-3-58-2, Ehsan 14-4-46-1, Imran 10.4-2- 27-0, Yasir 25-4-70-2, Azhar 5-1-14-0.