Half-centuries from Kaushal Silva and skipper Angelo Mathews saw Sri Lanka nose ahead of Pakistan in the second cricket Test played at the P Sara Oval on Friday.
Silva ran himself out needlessly at 80 when in sight of another Test hundred and Mathews with a fighting knock of 77 to keep the innings afloat after Silva’s dismissal and ensure that his team gained the upper hand in the Test.
At the end of the day Sri Lanka enjoyed a first innings lead of 166 which is good enough for them to push ahead for a win which should square the three-match series one-all with both teams going to Pallekele for the decider.
Sri Lanka finished on 304 for nine wickets in reply to Pakistan’s first innings of 138.
The day produced an absorbing tussle between bat and ball as both teams wrested to gain control. For most part Sri Lanka dominated against a Pakistan attack that was without their bowling spearhead Wahab Riaz who has been ruled out of the series with a fractured hand. Riaz suffered the injury while batting on the first day when he was hit on the left wrist by Dushmantha Chameera.
Mathews played a captain’s knock figuring in two vital partnerships with Silva that produced 72 for the fourth wicket and with Dhammika Prasad (35) – 73 for the seventh.
The partnership with Prasad was vital for Sri Lanka after they lost Silva, Dinesh Chandimal (1) and Kithuruwan Vithanage (3) within the space of 31 balls that saw them slump from 191-3 to 202-6.
Chandimal yorked himself unnecessarily and Vithanage played a reverse sweep not befitting a Test player.
However the Lankan tail that failed to wag at Galle produced vital runs on this occasion with Tharindu Kaushal (18) and Rangana Herath (10 not out) producing a ninth wicket stand of 28 that frustrated the Pakistan bowlers further.
In Riaz’s absence it was leg-spinner Yasir Shah who stood up for Pakistan again capturing five wickets and in the process becoming the quickest Pakistani bowler to take 50 Test wickets playing in his ninth Test. He beat the record of Waqar Younis the present Pakistan coach who achieved it in 10 Tests.
Sri Lanka began the day nicely placed at 70 for one and it all pointed out to the home team ending the day in a strong position. However as at Galle the shot selection of some of the batsmen were questionable and it led to wickets being gifted rather than Pakistan being made to work hard for their success. Silva, Sangakkara, Chandimal and Vithanage were guilty of poor shots that led to their dismissals.
Silva showed great reserves of concentration once against batting for five and a half hours for his innings while Mathews played an innings typical with his style of play.