DUBAI // Off-spinner Saeed Ajmal took five wickets to steer Pakistan to a nine-wicket win in the second Test against Sri Lanka at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium on Saturday, going 1-0 up in the three-match series.
The 34 year old finished with five for 68 - his fourth five-wicket haul in a Test - to help restrict Sri Lanka to 257 in their second innings before Pakistan went about reaching their modest 94-run target to seal victory with a day to spare.
Ajmal was ably supported by left-arm spin partner Abdul Rehman (2-65) and paceman Junaid Khan (2-38) as they exploited the spin and low bounce on a weary pitch to the best effect.
Pakistan lost opener Taufeeq Umar, bowled for one by left-arm spinner Rangana Herath, but Mohammad Hafeez (59) and Azhar Ali (29) scored the required runs inside 24.1 overs soon after the lights went on in the stadium.
Ali took the winning single much to the delight of a 2,000 holiday crowd but it was Hafeez who hit five boundaries and two towering sixes to secure Pakistan's win on the fourth day.
In Sri Lankan's second innings opener Tharanga Paranavitana (72) and vice-captain Angelo Mathews (52 not out) put up notable resistance against some penetrative pace-cum spin attack from Pakistan.
Pakistan had dismissed Sangakkara (30) in the fourth over of the fourth day before dismissing Mahela Jayawardene (5) and captain Tillakaratne Dilshan (3) - three wickets within 18 runs - to put them on the victory path.
The first Test ended in a draw at Abu Dhabi last week.
Pakistan captain Misbah-ul Haq praised the team effort.
"It was a thorough professional performance," said Misbah, who has now won four of his nine Test as captain, losing one and drawing the other four. "Our pacemen gave the edge on the first day and we kept that pressure well."
Dilshan, Misbah's counterpart, said his team need to bat well.
"We batted poorly after winning the toss," said Dilshan, yet to win a Test as captain in eight attempts. "Sangakkara's wicket was the key and then Pakistan bowled well."
Sri Lanka, who resumed at 88 for one, had been hoping for Sangakkara to stay longer and keep Pakistan at bay as he did in the second innings of the first Test when he scored an epic 211.
But the experienced batsman was reduced to adding just a single to his overnight score of 29 when he did not offer a stroke to left-arm spinner Rehman's incoming delivery and although he pushed too far New Zealand umpire Tony Hill adjudged him leg-before.
Sangakkara, who did not hit a single boundary, walked back in disgust. He added 73 for the second wicket with Paranavitana.
Jayawardene then missed a sweep off Ajmal and was bowled and Dilshan's horrible form in the series continued when was trapped leg-before by Junaid three runs later.
Paranavitana, though, remained composed and reached his ninth half-century with a square driven boundary off Umar Gul. He fell soon after lunch, caught off a sharp turning delivery from Ajmal in the slip.
He hit four boundaries during his fighting knock.
Pakistan took the second new ball after 85 overs and were immediately rewarded with the wicket of Kaushal Silva, caught off a miscued pull off Junaid at mid-on by Ajmal for eight.
Dhammika Prasad (33) helped Mathews add an invaluable 56 for the eighth wicket to delay Pakistan's victory before Rehman bowled him with a faster delivery.
Ajmal then wrapped up the tail, removing Herath (15) and Chanaka Welegedara (4) in one over and then three overs later ended the Sri Lankan innings by bowling Suranga Lakmal (8), finishing with eight wickets in the match.
Mathews hit five boundaries and a six during his 143-ball resistance-filled knock - the fifth half-century in his last eight innings.
The third and final Test starts in Sharjah from November 3.