Sa’adi Thawfeeq reporting from Pallekele
PALLEKELE: Angelo Mathews played a role which he has now got accustomed to as captain when he guided his team to a strong position on the third day of the decisive third and final cricket Test against Pakistan at the Pallekele International Stadium.
Coming to bat with his team in trouble at 35-3 and then seeing them lose the fourth wicket at 80, he bailed his team out of a crisis with a fighting unbeaten knock of 77 off 177 balls.
Sri Lanka ended the day at 228 for five wickets and hold onto an overall lead of 291 with two days of play remaining.
Batting with Mathews who has hit six fours and a six so far is Dinesh Chandimal on 39. The two have so far added 67 invaluable runs for the sixth wicket.
However the partnership that Mathews forged with Jehan Mubarak was the most important from Sri Lanka’s point of view. The stand was crucial for at that point had Sri Lanka lost a wicket Pakistan would have got the upper hand in the match.
The two put together 81 runs that took Sri Lanka’s lead well past the 200-run mark and put them on a firmer footing than they were placed in.
Mubarak, who has yet to score a Test fifty in 11 Tests played over a period of 13 years, played a fine supportive role to Mathews to score 35 priceless runs off 94 balls with six fours.
Mathews completed his eighth half-century against Pakistan off 104 balls with a six and five fours. He mixed caution with aggression and his innings has placed his team in a good position to press for a series clinching win.
SRI LANKA 1ST INNINGS 278
PAKISTAN 1ST INNINGS
Shan Masood lbw b Prasad 13
Ahmed Shehzad c Chandimal b Pradeep 21
Azhar Ali c Karunaratne b Pradeep 52
Younis Khan run out 3
Asad Shafiq lbw b Prasad 15
Sarfraz Ahmed not out 78
Misbah-ul-Haq lbw b Pradeep 6
Ehsan Adil lbw b Kaushal 0
Yasir Shah c Chandimal b Prasad 18
Rahat Ali lbw b Kaushal 2
Imran Khan b Kaushal 0
Extras (lb-4, nb-2, w-1) 7
Total (all out 66 overs) 215
Fall of wickets: 1-32 (Masood), 2-40 (Shehzad), 3-45 (Younis), 4-91 (Shafiq), 5-135 (Azhar), 6-151 (Misbah), 7-152 (Ehsan), 8-197 (Yasir), 9-202 (Rahat), 10-215 (Imran).
Bowling: Prasad 19-1-78-3 (w1), Lakmal 14-1-64-0 (nb2), Pradeep 15-5-29-3, Mathews 4-1-3-0, Kaushal 14-1-37-3.
SRI LANKA 2ND INNINGS
D Karunaratne b Rahat 10
K Silva c Misbah b Adil 3
U Tharanga c Azhar b Yasir 48
L Thirimanne b Rahat 0
A Mathews not out 77
J Mubarak c Azhar b Yasir 35
D Chandimal not out 39
Extras (b-4, lb-9, w-3) 16
Total (5 wickets at close, 69.4 overs) 228
Fall of wickets: 1-12 (Karunaratne), 2-22 (Silva), 3-35 (Thirimanne), 4-80 (Tharanga), 5-161 (Mubarak).
Bowling: Rahat 15-3-58-2 (w1), Adil 14-4-46-1 (w1), Imran 10.4-2-27-0 (w1), Yasir 25-4-70-2.
AFP picture by Lakruwan Wanniarachchi