Shafiq hits century as Pakistan fight back in Sri Lanka Test

GALLE: Pakistan turned the tables on Sri Lanka in the first Test after Asad Shafiq hit a century to lead a remarkable rearguard action by the lower order on the fourth day on Saturday.


The tourists, who resumed the day at 118-5 in reply to Sri Lanka’s 300, piled up 417 in their first innings before being dismissed in the post-tea session with a lead of 117 runs in Galle.

Sri Lanka were 63-2 in their second knock at stumps, having lost first-innings centurion Kaushal Silva (five) and star batsman Kumar Sangakkara (18) in the 21 overs before close.

Azhar Ali caught Silva at third slip off Wahab Riaz and later snapped up Sangakkara at short-leg off Yasir Shah.

Opener Dimuth Karunaratne was unbeaten on 36 and nightwatchman Dilruwan Perera had yet to score as Sri Lanka enter the final day’s play on Sunday still trailing by 54 runs with eight wickets in hand.

Pakistan’s last five wickets put on 321 runs after the top five had fallen for 96 on Friday as the home team’s bowlers struggled on a slow pitch at the Galle International Stadium.

Shafiq was last man dismissed for 131, his seventh Test century and the third in the last four matches following scores of 137 against New Zealand in Sharjah and 107 against Bangladesh in Dhaka.

Sarfraz Ahmed, a wicket-keeper who relishes a challenge with the bat, scored 96 off 86 balls during a sixth-wicket partnership of 139 with Shafiq, his overnight partner.

Sarfraz missed his fourth Test century when he ambitiously attempted to sweep a ball from seamer Dhammika Prasad that was pitched outside the off-stump and dragged the ball onto his stumps.

Tailender Zulfiqar Babar, essentially a left-arm spinner, smashed a career-best 56 off 60 balls with six boundaries and two sixes as he helped Shafiq add 101 valuable runs for the ninth wicket.

The entertaining partnership ended when Babar was caught in the deep, while Shafiq was stumped soon after to terminate the innings.

Off-spinner Perera finished with four for 122 and seamer Dhammika Prasad took three for 91, but seasoned left-arm spinner Rangana Herath went for one for 99 in 30 overs.

“Gaining the important wicket of Sangakkara at the end has given us a good chance to win the match,” said Sarfraz. “Hopefully we will get them out quickly and then chase whatever target we are given.”

Sarfraz and Shafiq had joined hands on Friday evening after the fall of the fifth wicket of skipper Misbah-ul Haq had threatened a total collapse.

Sarfraz’s latest effort followed his impressive batting during the previous series between the two teams in Sri Lanka last year when he scored 55 and 52 in the Galle Test and 103 and 55 in the next match in Colombo.

When Sarfraz reached 47, he had completed 1,000 Test runs in 28 innings to equal Imtiaz Ahmed’s record of being the fastest to the mark among Pakistan’s wicket-keepers.

Resuming after lunch at 259-6, Shafiq found good support from Wahab (14) and Yasir (23) before Babar settled in to provide unexpected resistence to the Sri Lankan bowlers.

Bad weather had washed out the entire first day’s play on Wednesday and just 64 overs were bowled on the second day due to a wet outfield.

Pakistan lead Sri Lanka by 117 runs

Pakistan were all out for 417, responding to Sri Lanka’s first innings score of 300, in the post-tea session of the fourth day’s play in the first Test in Galle on Saturday.

Asad Shafiq made 131, sharing a sixth-wicket stand of 139 with Sarfraz Ahmed (96) and 101 for the ninth with tailender Zulfiqar Babar, who hit 56 off 60 balls.

Pakistan lead the hosts by 117 runs as the last five wickets put on 321 after the top five had fallen for 96 runs.

Pakistan in trouble against Sri Lanka after Silva’s century

Sri Lanka’s bowlers ripped through Pakistan’s top order in dramatic fashion to leave the tourists struggling on the scheduled third day of the first Test in Galle on Friday.

After opener Kaushal Silva hit 125 to lift Sri Lanka to 300 in the first innings, Pakistan collapsed to 35-3 in reply before a partial recovery saw them to 118-5 by stumps.

Asad Shafiq was unbeaten on 14 and Sarfraz Ahmed was on 15 when rain forced play to end early with the tourists trailing by 182 runs with five wickets in hand.

Seamer Dhammika Prasad removed both openers by the third over, paving the way for the bowlers to take control of the innings on what remained an easy-paced pitch at the Galle International stadium.

Prasad had Mohammad Hafeez caught at third slip off his sixth delivery and then trapped Ahmed Shehzad leg-before in his next over to reduce Pakistan to 11 for two.

It became 35-3 when seasoned left-arm spinner Rangana Herath, brought in to the attack in the sixth over, had Azhar Ali leg-before in his third over.

Veterans Younis Khan (47) and skipper Misbah-ul Haq (20) attempted to rebuild with a 51-run stand for the fourth wicket before both were dismissed in the space of 10 runs in the last session.

Younis was bowled as he stepped out to drive off-spinner Dilruwan Perera, and Misbah fell to a brilliant one-handed diving catch at first slip by 37-year-old Kumar Sangakkara off Nuwan Pradeep.

Sri Lanka’s innings were built around Silva’s painstaking effort that was marked by solid defence even as wickets tumbled regularly at the other end.

The diminutive right-hander lit up the rain-hit Test with a stubborn 125, his second Test century after making 139 against Bangladesh in Dhaka in January last year.

Silva, however, failed to carry his bat through the innings when he was ninth out from the 300th delivery he faced, caught behind off left-arm spinner Zulfiqar Babar.

Silva, who began the day on 80, had reached his century 30 minutes before lunch when he drove Babar through the covers for his 15th boundary.

Bad weather had washed out the entire first day’s play on Wednesday and just 64 overs were bowled on the second day due to a wet outfield.

Sri Lanka added 11 runs to their overnight score of 178-3 when they lost the wicket of skipper Angelo Mathews, who was bowled by left-arm seamer Wahab Riaz for 19.

Dinesh Chandimal contributed 23 in a fifth-wicket stand of 37 with Silva before being bowled by Babar, who was surprisingly handed the second new ball which was claimed after 80 overs.

Kithuruwan Vithanage was the third batsman to be dismissed in the morning session when, on 18, he gave Hafeez an easy return catch.

Babar removed Prasad and Silva in successive overs before Yasir Shah held a skier off his own bowling to dismiss last man Nuwan Pradeep.

Wahab and Babar finished with three wickets each, while Hafeez and Shah took two each.

The three-Test series will be followed by five one-day internationals and two Twenty20 matches.