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Sarfraz Ahmed and Azad Shafiq during their face saving sixth wicket partnership of 139 for Pakistan on the fourth day of the first Test against Sri Lanka at the Galle International Stadium. AFP picture by Ishara S Kodikara

GALLE: Pakistan looked to be in control of the first Test against Sri Lanka after Azad Shafeeq had scored his seventh Test hundred and Shafraz Ahmed had contributed a brilliant 96 at the Galle International Stadium.

Shafeeq’s contribution of 131 coupled with that of Sarfraz saw Pakistan who resumed the fourth day on a shaky 118-5 in reply to Sri Lanka’s 300 finish on top with the prospect of pushing for an unlikely victory in this Test reduced to four days. The first day was washed out by rain.

Pakistan replied with 417 and with a handy first innings lead of 117 picked up two Sri Lankan second innings wickets including that of Kumar Sangakkara to have the home team battling to save the match at 63-2 going into the fifth and final day tomorrow.

Sri Lanka still trail by 54 runs and with eight wickets in hand will have to bat out the final day on a pitch that has surprisingly played very well.

Opener Dimuth Karunaratne is unbeaten on 36 and with him is nightwatchman Dilruwan Perera on nought.

Sri Lanka lost their first innings century-maker Kaushal Silva cheaply for five when he edged a delivery from Wahab Riaz to Azhar Ali at slip.

Sangakkara managed to get to 18 before falling to a bat-pad catch to leg spinner Yasir Shah.

Thanks largely to Shafeeq’s dogged knock and Sarfraz’s aggressive innings Pakistan were able to recover from a disastrous position. Following Sarfraz’s dismissal Shafeeq received excellent support from the tail with left-arm spinner Zulfiqar Babar going onto score a maiden Test fifty.

Overall Sri Lanka’s approach was more towards defensive in trying to protect their total and they subsequently played into Pakistan’s hands.

StCOREBOARD

SRI LANKA 1ST INNINGS 300

PAKISTAN 1ST INNINGS

(118-5 continued)

Mohammad Hafeez c Karunaratne b Prasad 2

Ahmed Shehzad lbw b Prasad         9

Azhar Ali lbw b Herath    8

Younis Khan b Perera      47

Misbah-ul-Haq c Sangakkara b Pradeep         20

Asad Shafiq st Chandimal b Perera 131

Sarfraz Ahmed b Prasad 96

Wahab Riaz b Perera 14

Yasir Shah c Chandimal b Pradeep 23

Zulfiqar Babar c Vithanage b Perera 56

Junaid Khan not out 6

Extras (lb-1, nb-3, w-1) 5

Total (all out, 113.1 overs) 417

Fall of wickets: 1-2 (Hafeez), 2-11 (Shehzad), 3-35 (Azhar), 4-86 (Younis), 5-96 (Misbah), 6-235 (Sarfraz), 7-273 (Riaz), 8-302 (Yasir), 9-403 (Babar), 10-417 (Shafiq).

Bowling: Prasad 24-4-91-3, Pradeep 19-1-71-2 (nb2), Herath 30-4-99-1, Perera 31.1-3-122-4, Mathews 6-1-12-0 (nb1), Vithanage 3-0-21-0 (w1).

SRI LANKA 2ND INNINGS

K Silva c Azhar b Riaz 5

D Karunaratne not out 36

K Sangakkara c Azhar b Yasir 18

D Perera not out 0

Extras (b-4) 4

Total (two wickets at close, 21 overs) 62

Fall of wickets: 1-18 (Silva), 2-63 (Sangakkara).

Bowling: Riaz 6-3-11-1, Junaid 4-0-19-0, Yasir 7-1-21-1, Hafeez4-1-8-0.