Amazing Azhar levels Sri Lanka
SHARJAH: Azhar Ali inspired Pakistan pulled of a thrilling victory in a nail-biting finish in the third Test against Sri Lanka at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium on Monday.
In a topsy-turvey Test, which swung both ways from day one, Pakistan held their nerves to emerge winners and levelled the three-match series 1-1.
Pakistan, who needed 302 runs to win from 59 overs, romped to victory with five wickets remaining and nine balls to spare.
Ali (103) and Misbah shared a stand of 109 runs for the fifth wicket to keep Pakistan in contention after Sarfraz spurred the chase with a blitzkrieg 48 off 46 balls before falling to Eranga.
Misbah, who hit the winning run, remained unbeaten on 68 to see Pakistan home. He hit four boundaries in his 72-ball knock.
Ali, who was the mainstay of the Pakistan innings, scored his fifth Test century and shared three important partnerships with Misbah, Sarfraz and Younis Khan. Ali added 89 and 49 runs with Sarfraz and Younis for the fourth and the fifth wickets respectively.
Ali hit six boundaries during his 137-ball knock and rotated the strike well with an eye on required rate to keep Pakistan’s hopes alive during their chase.
Chasing, Pakistan got off to a decent start as both the openers Khaurram Manzoor (21) and Ahmed Shehzad (21) put on 35 runs in six overs for the first wicket.
Lakmal put the temporary brakes on scoring as he got rid of both the openers within a span of 13 runs. Shehzad was caught at deep square leg by Karunaratne off Lakmal when he played a lofty short to accelerate the scoring rate. Then Lakmal had Manzoor caught behind by wicketkeeper as the latter gloved a delivery going down the leg side.
Earlier, Pakistan restricted Lanka to 214 in their second innings in an extended first session. Abdur Rheman returned with a figure of 4-56 while Saeed Ajmal and Mohammed Talha took three wickets each, conceding 53 and 65 runs respectively.
Angelo Mathews (31) and Prasanna Jayawardene (49) added 62 runs for sixth wicket to take the score 189-6 before Talha removed the latter to give Pakistan much needed breakthrough.
Abdur Rehman got rid of Duilruwan Pererea (8) and Rangna Herath (0) on consecutive deliveries to leave them tattering at 203-8.
Ajmal had Prasanna and last man Shaminda Eranga (3) caught by Azhar Ali and Rehman respectively to wrap up Lanka innings.
Lanka have not won any Test series since 2000 except against Bangladesh and Zimbabwe.