Sarfraz Ahmed the Pakistan wicket-keeper who defied the Lankan bowling on the second day escapes being run out in the third and final Test at Pallekele. AFP picture by Lakruwan Wanniarachchi

Sa’adi Thawfeeq reporting from Pallekele

PALLEKELE: Sri Lanka head coach Marvan Atapattu believes the run out of Pakistan’s most experienced batsman Younis Khan shortly before lunch was the turning point of on the second day of the third Test played at the Pallekele International Stadium.

“He is their main stay and the most experienced player. To get him at a crucial time, I mean just before lunch, by way of a run out, that put the whole (Pakistan) team down and lifted the morale of the opposition. That’s what happened,” said Atapattu at the end of the day.

Atapattu was full of praise for the bowling unit for keeping Pakistan down to 209-9 at the end of the day in reply to Sri Lanka’s first innings of 278.

“We’re really happy where we’re at the moment. We got out for 278 but we fought our way into the game to get nine Pakistan wickets for 209 runs. All credit should go to bowlers and the fielders. Especially, in this series, we have been fielding really well,” Atapattu said.

“The wicket looks much better than the scores tell you. It’s been disciplined bowling, and we’ve been good on the field, right throughout the series. That’s enabled us to achieve what we have achieved up until now.

“All the fast bowlers who have played in this series have been fantastic. They have brought us back in all three games, starting in Galle when they got 90-odd for 5, when we were bowled out for 300, then 138 all out at the Sara Oval. Here, after having scored only 278 in the first innings, to get nine Pakistani wickets is a remarkable effort.”

Atapattu said the programs and managing of the fast bowlers in the last 16-20 months was paying dividends now.

“We’re lucky to have some of the fast bowlers that we have today. If all goes well, hopefully, everybody will be fit and available for selection, which hasn’t really happened, having said that, we’re lucky to have about eight guys in our ranks.

“Fitness is the key but everyone has different strengths. For example, Chameera has a different strength to Suranga. Dhammika has a different strength to both of them. It’s about improving and gaining experience. We give that confidence to them. Obviously, performance is the thing that keeps them going,” Atapattu said.