x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Pakistan v Sri Lanka: Day three updates

Session updates from the third day of play in the second Test match between Pakistan and Sri Lanka in Dubai.

In pictures: Pakistan v Sri Lanka second Test

Highlights from the second day of play between Pakistan and Sri Lanka in Dubai.

Sangakkara targets early breakthrough. Read article

Sri Lanka are weighing up their bowling options. Read article

All work makes day's play an empty adventure. Read article

Stumps update

A gripping final session on the third day at Dubai International Cricket stadium set up the possibility of a thrilling finish to the second Test between Pakistan and Sri Lanka. No wickets and only 71 runs scored suggest otherwise, but a roughed up surface of increasingly difficult bounce and a solid rearguard from Sri Lanka completed a fine fightback. They now sit 76 runs behind, nine wickets in hand.

Having hustled Pakistan out in the afternoon to restrict the lead to 164, Sri Lanka ground their way through 45 overs, losing only the wicket of Lahiru Thirimanne. Tharana Paranavitana and Kumar Sangakkara put on 66 hard-earned runs, avoiding a number of potential calamities to see through the day.

Spin dominated proceedings and all Saeed Ajmal, Mohammad Hafeez and Abdur Rehman found enough turn and variable bounce to suggest a greater role over the last two days. Both batsmen were beaten on a number of occasions, usually to cacophonous appeals, none successful.

A good throw soon after drinks from substitute fielder Shoaib Malik would have broken the partnership, but with both batsmen hesitating, Malik's wide throw let them recover their ground. As well as a number of strong - and ludicrous - bat-pad appeals, wicketkeeper Adnan Akmal also missed a chance to stump Sangakkara as Sri Lanka scored just 20 runs in one 16-over spell.

But they ended the day intact, leaving the Test deliciously balanced.

Tea update

Sri Lanka got just reward for a hard morning's work as they bowled out Pakistan swiftly after lunch for 403. Their openers then survived a testing burst from Pakistan's bowlers to reach tea, all wickets intact, at 17 for no loss.

Though the lead of 147 is still a hefty one, it could've been much healthier one given Pakistan's lunchtime score of 373 for 6.

The first wicket fell seven overs after lunch, Asad Shafiq's stylish fifty coming to an un-stylish end, as he deflected a wide ball straight to gully. Rangana Herath then tucked into the tail, luring Abdur Rehman into a needless slog and trapping Umar Gul leg-before two balls later.

Adnan Akmal gamely kept up the fight, trying to protect Junaid Khan. But he fell as soon as Tillakaratne Dilshan replaced the willing Prasad, edging the Sri Lankan captain's first ball behind.

Lahiru Thirimanne and Tharanga Paranavitana have not had a great series as an opening pair and they were given a full and thorough examination by Umar Gul in 11 overs before tea. Both were kept scoreless for long periods and beaten several times. The only boundary came in the ninth over, Paranavitana squirting a four through point.

More danger signs emerged when Mohammad Hafeez – Pakistan's third-line spinner in the game – came on and troubled both extensively. Surviving a number of leg-before appeals, they managed to scrape through but with Saeed Ajmal and Abdur Rehman to come after tea, they're still in some strife.

Lunch update

A competitive and entertaining morning session at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium saw Pakistan build on their basic ascendancy on the third day of the second Test. But Sri Lanka's bowlers continued their promising work from yesterday, ensuring Pakistan didn't get too far out of reach. The bare numbers tell of an even session: two wickets and 92 runs but Pakistan's lead now has stretched to 134.

Sri Lanka struck a vital blow early, Chanaka Welegedera dismissing the well-set Misbah-ul-Haq in the day's second over. Dhammika Prasad bustled in at the other end, but Welegedera was the pick, keeping the ball full and angling it in, but also making it hold its line across.

Saeed Ajmal's pesky nightwatchman hand should've ended early, Angelo Mathews dropping a regulation chance at gully. But Welegedera persevered and when he finally got him, Mathews holding on this time, the game was perched in balance.

Thereafter, however, a wonderful, counter-attacking stand of 49 between Asad Shafiq and Adnan Akmal wrested back the momentum. Shafiq started slowly, as he had done in Abu Dhabi, but a six down the ground, dancing out of the crease, off Rangana Herath after drinks set him free.

He looked comfortable from there, the most urgent of all Pakistan's batsmen, stealing good singles and pulling out an array of checked drives and flashy cuts. A well-deserved third Test fifty arrived in the last over before lunch. Akmal kept him busy company, importantly ending Welegedera's spell by driving him twice in succession for four.

osamiuddin@thenational.ae