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Openers crawl Pakistan to 85-0 at lunch

January 18, 2014

SHARJAH, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Pakistan reached 85-0 at lunch on day three of the decisive third test, chasing Sri Lanka’s 428-9 on a very flat wicket at Sharjah Cricket Stadium on Saturday.

Sri Lanka — leading 1-0 in the series — maintained the upper hand as Pakistan’s openers Ahmed Shehzad (42 not out) and Khurram Manzoor (41 not out) showed little urgency, hitting only five boundaries in the first session.

Pakistan still needs 143 runs to avoid the follow-on.

Resuming at the overnight 19-0, Pakistan’s 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 to point in the 17th over of the day.

The openers have put on Pakistan’s best first wicket stand of the series, but their defensive approach against both seamers and the left-arm spin of Rangana Herath meant a significant increase in the run rate will be required if Pakistan is to take the win it needs to square the series.

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.

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