A determined rearguard action from Sri Lankan captain Angelo Mathews(116*) and Dinesh Chandimal(89) turned the tides for the visiting team and placed themselves in a position from they cannot lose with just one more day remaining in the first Test match against Pakistan at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi. Sri Lanka now lead by 241 runs with five wickets in hand after being down and out in the first innings starring at an inevitable defeat
Starting the day on 186/4, with both their set and experienced batsmen back in the hut, Sri Lanka had a difficult task in hand against an usually potent Pakistan bowling attack. All they had managed at the end of the day three was a lead of 7 runs and if they stood any chance of making a match out of it, it was up to the pair at the crease at that point of time in Dinesh Chandimal and Angelo Mathews.
The resolute fifth-wicket pair could not have chosen a better occasion to rise to the occasion. They denied a bowling attack, which if not threatening on the particular day was still disciplined, from making any further inroads and carried on to put together a 138-run partnership. In the process they had batting nearly half-a-day facing 47.3 overs.
Junaid Khan finally managed to break the partnership as Chandimal (89 off 166) holed out at deep fine leg playing a well-timed hook shot straight into the hands of the fielder. Pakistan would have hoped that it would be a start of a possible collapse, but wicket-keeper Prasanna Jayawerdene provided the much needed support for his captain to safeguard the stabilised position.
Saeed Ajmal, the man who is expected to deliver on such situations, failed to provide any telling blows as Sri Lanka continued to pile on the misery till bad light stopped play late into the day. The scoreboard read 420/5 in 148 overs, with the sixth-wicket partnership unbeaten on 96 runs in 39 overs.
Although Pakistan are not in a serious trouble as Sri Lanka will ideally look to bat out for another 15 overs at the least to set a target which could convince themselves as a chase-proof one. The Island nation’s best hope for tomorrow is to let Pakistan chase 350 and hope Rangana Herath shows them the way. However, they should be mindful of the attacking flair that Ahmed Shehzad and Mohammad Hafeez bring to this new look Pakistan top order.