By Sa’adi Thawfeeq
Sri Lanka won the second Test against Pakistan by seven wickets to level the three-match series one-all and set up a thrilling decider at Pallekele, venue of the third and final Test starting on July 3.
With a 30-minute late start due to heavy overnight rain Sri Lanka had one eye on the weather when they began their run chase.
The urgency with which Sri Lanka approached their target was reflected by them promoting hard hitting middle-order batsman Kithuruwan Vithanage to open the innings with Dimuth Karunaratne.
Vithanage who was overtly criticized for the manner he was dismissed in the first innings (playing a reverse sweep shot) played the part he was asked to by coming up with a nice cameo knock of 34 off 23 balls that included four fours and two sixes.
It was the kind of start that Sri Lanka was looking for and with Karunaratne the pair posted 49 in seven overs to push Pakistan onto the backfoot.
Although Sri Lanka lost the wickets of Vithanage and Kumar Sangakkara off successive deliveries, skipper Angelo Mathews promoted himself up the order to take on the responsibility to score the remaining runs.
Sangakkara who has been the most prolific Sri Lankan run-getter against Pakistan with 2911 runs signed off with a first ball duck, only the sixth time he has been dismissed in that manner in his illustrious career.
With Karunaratne going well at one end, Mathews shared a third wicket stand of 72 off 79 balls that more or less sealed the match.
Karunaratne completed his sixth Test fifty and third against Pakistan off 55 balls (4 fours) before falling leg before to Yasir Shah who again finished as Pakistan’s top bowler with two wickets and eight in the match which took his tally in the series to 17.
Pakistan clearly missed Wahab Riaz their spearhead who has been ruled out of the series with a fractured hand.
Mathews was unbeaten on 43 (6 fours) and Lahiru Thirimanne who hit the winning boundary on 20 not out.
Fast bowler Dhammika Prasad with a match bag of seven wickets for 135 won the Man of the Match award.
PAKISTAN 1ST INNINGS 138
SRI LANKA 1ST INNINGS 315
PAKISTN 2ND INNINGS 329
SRI LANKA 2ND INNINGS
D Karunaratne lbw b Yasir 50
K Vithanage c Hafeez b Babar 34
K Sangakkara c Azhar b Yasir 0
A Mathews not out 43
L Thirimanne not out 20
Extras (lb-6) 6
Total (three wickets, 26.3 overs) 153
Fall of wickets: 1-49 (Vithanage), 2-49 (Sangakkara), 3-121 (Karunaratne).
Bowling: Junaid 4-0-30-0, Hafeez 4-0-20-0, Babar 8-0-42-1, Yasir 10.3-0-55-2.