x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Sri Lanka share the spoils with Pakistan

Home side take the advantage of the Series after deciding to draw the second Test.

Pakistan’s bowler Junaid Khan, centre, was man of the match in the second Test against Sri Lanka.
Pakistan’s bowler Junaid Khan, centre, was man of the match in the second Test against Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka turned down the chance to embark on an ambitious series-winning run chase yesterday, opting instead to settle for a draw and consolidate their advantage ahead of the third Test in Pallekele next week.

Pakistan had set their opponents a victory target of 261 in 37 overs in the final session but Sri Lanka showed no interest in pursuing the run chase and were on 86 for two when the captains shook hands after 12 overs of their second innings.

"We were trying to figure out whether we could chase it down with the number of overs but then we decided it was almost six an over and wasn't worth the challenge," said Mahela Jayawardene, the Sri Lanka skipper.

"We figured that those last two sessions were [them] trying to get a psychological advantage going into the third Test."

Misbah-ul-Haq, the Pakistan captain, was pleased his top order returned to form. When Pakistan lost the first test in Galle by 209 runs it had been bowled out for a paltry 100 in the first innings. At Sinhalese Sports Club, meanwhile, Mohammad Hafeez slammed 196 and Azhar Ali scored 157.

"The top order had played a major role in our victories in our last year and half," Misbah said. "They have given us some good starts. We were struggling to get that in the last few Test matches. I am happy with the way they batted in this Test match. When the top order is firing there is a chance of doing well in Test matches."

There had been faint hopes the tourists might triumph, with Sri Lanka needing 74 more runs to avoid the follow-on with just five wickets in hand yesterday morning, but Kumar Sangakkara and Angelo Mathews steered Sri Lanka to 391 all out.

Despite Sangakkara and Tillakaratne Dilshan both registering centuries, Pakistan took four quick wickets to raise hopes of making the hosts, still 273 runs adrift overnight, follow on.

But Sangakkara and Mathews put on 92 for the sixth wicket before the latter feathered Junaid Khan behind to depart for 47, which was the start of a sequence that saw Sri Lanka lose their last five wickets for 21 runs.

Sangakkara's wicket came during the collapse as he fell for 192 after coming down the pitch and flicking Abdur Rehman to Taufeeq Umar at square leg.

With a first-innings lead of 160, Pakistan came out firing in their second innings as they sought to build a quick score and put the pressure on Sri Lanka.

The tourists went for tea on 99 for two and added just one more run before opting to declare, with opener Taufeeq unbeaten on 42, and set Sri Lanka a lofty victory target.

Sri Lanka's chase began at a steady pace with openers Dilshan and Tharanga Paranavitana rattling off 48 runs in 11 overs. But Dilshan was trapped lbw by Saeed Ajmal for 28, and Paranavitana (32) fell the same way to Rehman five overs later to slow the charge. Sangakkara added an unbeaten 24 before the expected draw was confirmed.

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