Sri Lanka keeps Pakistan in check at 169-2
SHARJAH, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Openers Ahmed Shehzad and Khurram Manzoor hit half centuries but Sri Lanka hit back with two wickets to restrict Pakistan to 169-2 at tea on the third day of the decisive third test on a very flat wicket Saturday.
Shehzad was eyeing his maiden test hundred and was unbeaten on 94 off 220 balls with seven fours and Manzoor made 52 before Sri Lanka struck twice in the second session after century opening stand.
Pakistan still trails by 259 runs after Sri Lanka declared its first innings at 428-9.
Pakistan also wasted both its referrals when Manzoor was caught behind down the legside and Azhar Ali (8) surprisingly went for the television referral despite edging offspinner Dilruwan Perera in the slip.
Sri Lanka — leading the series 1-0 and needing just a draw to clinch the series — did well in the first session by conceding just 66 runs after Pakistan resumed at the overnight 19-0.
The openers labored for only 23 runs in the first hour with Shehzad hitting two legside boundaries off fast bowler Suranga Lakmal.
Manzoor was very cautious, hitting only one boundary in the session, when he cut Shaminda Eranga (1-30) to point in the 17th over of the day.
The openers put on Pakistan’s best first wicket stand of the series — 114 runs — but were too defensive against both seamers and the left-arm spin of Rangana Herath.
Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews also kept the openers quiet with some intelligent field placings and didn’t allow them to rotate strike too often with five fielders inside the 15 meters on the legside.
Pakistan needed a significant increase in the run rate to take the win it needs to square the series, but Manzoor and Shehzad were tied down after the break as they almost consumed three hours to reach their fifties and Pakistan added 84 runs in the second session.
Shehzad reached his half century off 150 balls with five fours and Manzoor soon followed him to complete his seventh test fifty off 120 balls with four boundaries.
The slow outfield of Sharjah Cricket Stadium also didn’t help Pakistan cause to score quickly as Shehzad could only hit three more boundaries in the second session.
Eranga finally got the breakthrough when Manzoor, who faced 125 balls with four boundaries, tried to flick him down the legside and Ali perished soon afterwards as Perera lured him to drive off a well flighted delivery and found the outside edge to Mathews.