PALLEKELE, July 6 (AFP): Shan Masood and Younis Khan compiled unbeaten centuries to keep Pakistan in the hunt for a landmark victory in the series-deciding third and final Test against Sri Lanka today.
Set a challenging target of 377 runs, the tourists recovered from a shaky 13-2 to move to 230 without further loss by stumps on the rain-free fourth day in Pallekele.
Masood, the five-Test old left-hander, was unbeaten on 114, having reached his maiden century by lofting off-spinner Tharindu Kaushal for a six over long-on towards the end of play.
Younis, who made his 100th Test appearance in the second match of the series, got to his 30th century in the day’s last over. The pair have put on 217 so far for the third wicket with Younis on 101.
Pakistan will enter the final day’s play on Tuesday needing a further 147 runs with eight wickets in hand on a wearing, but easy-paced pitch at the Pallekele International Stadium.
If Pakistan win, it will be the first time a visiting team will have scored more than 300 runs in the fourth innings to win a Test on Sri Lankan soil.
Pakistan’s highest successful chase is 314 runs they made against Australia to win the Karachi Test way back in 1994.
Earlier, Sri Lanka’s captain Angelo Mathews was last man out for 122 as the hosts took their overnight score of 228-5 to 313 before they were all out at the stroke of lunch.
Pakistan’s fast bowler Imran Khan took all the five wickets that fell in the morning session in the space of 33 balls.
Mathews, who came in to bat on Sunday afternoon with his team reduced to 35-3, anchored the innings for more than six hours in which he hit 12 boundaries and a six.
Imran said he was delighted at his maiden five-wicket haul, but stressed it was a team effort that has got Pakistan this far in the match.
“We believed a turnaround was possible and we showed that today,” he said. “We had made up our minds not to give up and take inspiration from our performance over the last few years.
“Shan and Younis were really good and I am confident they will bring us victory tomorrow.”
Sri Lanka 1st innings: 278 . Pakistan 1st innings: 215.
Sri Lanka 2nd innings (overnight 228-5): Karunaratne b Rahat 10, Silva c Misbah b Ehsan 3, Tharanga c Azhar b Yasir 48, Thirimanne b Rahat 0, Mathews c Sarfraz b Imran 122, Mubarak c Azhar b Yasir 35, Chandimal lbw b Imran 67, Prasad c Sarfraz b Imran 0, Kaushal c Sarfraz b Imran 8, Lakmal c Sarfraz b Imran 0, Pradeep not out 4. Extras: (b4, lb9, w3) 16. Total: (all out, 95.4 overs) 313. Fall of wickets: 1-12, 2-22, 3-35, 4-80, 5-161, 6-278, 7-278, 8-290, 9-306, 10-313. Bowling: Rahat 21-3-82-2, Ehsan 17-4-66-1, Imran 20.4-3-58-5, Yasir 32-7-80-2, Azhar 5-1-14-0.
Pakistan 2nd innings: Masood batting 114, Shehzad b Lakmal 0, Azhar c Chandimal b Prasad 5, Younis batting 101. Extras: (lb6, w1, nb3) 10. Total: (for two wickets, 63 overs) 230. Fall of wickets: 1-0, 2-13. Bowling: Prasad 13-2-42-1, Lakmal 12-2-34-1, Pradeep 10-2-32-0, Mathews 6-1-15-0, Kaushal 20-1-92-0, Mubarak 2-0-9-0.