x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Sri Lanka and Pakistan bowlers pitch it right on day one

"It's game on at this stage," says Pakistan top-scorer Shafiq as Sri Lanka lose three quick wickets in reply to 226.

Thisara Perera, right, returned with best figures of 4-63 in his short six-Test career.
Thisara Perera, right, returned with best figures of 4-63 in his short six-Test career.

Pakistan batsman Asad Shafiq feels it will be "game on" when Sri Lanka resume batting this morning after Junaid Khan struck twice late on the opening day of the third Test to revive Pakistan's hopes of a series-levelling win in Pallekele.

Young seamer Thisara Perera grabbed career-best figures as Sri Lanka bowled out Pakistan for 226, but Pakistan hit back to reduce Sri Lanka to 44 for three by stumps as left-arm seamer Junaid removed Dinesh Chandimal and danger man Kumar Sangakkara in the space of four deliveries.

"It's game on at this stage," said Shafiq who top-scored for Pakistan with a battling 75.

"We may not have got a big score, but having taken three quick wickets means Sri Lanka will be under pressure.

"This pitch is not easy to bat on, especially in the morning and evening sessions where the ball does a bit.

"It will play the same way on the remaining days, too."

But Pakistan's hopes of forcing victory have been hit by an injury to Adnan Akmal.

The wicketkeeper suffered a hairline fracture to his left hand and will not take the field today.

Taufiq Umar will take up the wicketkeeping duties.

Akmal suffered the injury when a ball from fast bowler Dilhara Fernando thudded into his left glove.

Generally, the bounce on the greenish pitch was less than expected - the wicketkeeper stood up to the stumps as early as the third over - but there was considerable movement in the air and off the wicket.

Perera, a 23 year-old playing only his sixth Test, made best use of the conditions in his maiden appearance in the series, grabbing three wickets in his first eight overs.

"It is good to get my best Test figures, but I am happier that I helped my team keep Pakistan to a low score," Perera said.

"I hope it continues that way and we can win this Test."

Sri Lanka, who won the first Test in Galle before the second in Colombo was drawn, are seeking their first series win in three years, after defeating New Zealand 2-0 at home in 2009. The hosts earned two wickets on either side of the morning drinks break when veteran Younis Khan was caught behind off Kulasekara and Taufeeq Umar (29) was leg-before to Perera.

Misbah defended stoutly for his 40 off 95 deliveries as he rebuilt the innings with Shafiq, but the pair found little support from the rest of the batting.

Sri Lanka suffered a setback before the start when experienced opener Tillakaratne Dilshan opted out of the Test and returned home to Colombo due to health worries in his family.

Dilshan was replaced by Chandimal, while Suraj Randiv and Nuwan Pradeep made way for Dilhara Fernando and Perera.

Pakistan included Umar Gul and Mohammad Sami, who both missed the second Test, in place of Aizaz Cheema and Abdur Rehman.

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