PALLEKELE, Sri Lanka – Young all-rounder Thisara Perera followed his four wickets with 75 off 86 balls as Sri Lanka seized control of the final Test against Pakistan here Tuesday.
Pakistan, seeking a series-levelling win, paid for sloppy fielding as Sri Lanka recovered from a middle-order collapse to make 337 in its first innings on the third day.
The tourists, trailing by 111 runs, were 27-1 in their second knock by stumps, losing opener Taufeeq Umar for four, leg-before to seamer Nuwan Kulasekara.
Mohammad Hafeez was unbeaten on eight and Azhar Ali was on six, with Pakistan trailing by 84 runs with nine wickets in hand. The resolute batting by the host has given it a chance to build on the 1-0 series lead.
Sri Lanka won the first Test by 209 runs before the second was drawn. Sri Lanka was only 10 runs ahead when it lost its seventh wicket, but Perera and Kulasekara (33) snatched the initiative by adding 84 for the eighth.
Perera, a 23-year-old from Colombo playing only his sixth Test, smashed four fours and three sixes in his maiden half-century after being dropped twice on 11 and 22.
Seamer Umar Gul first missed a return catch and then saw skipper Misbahul Haq spill a low chance in the slips off his own bowling.
Perera, whose four wickets in the first innings engineered Pakistan’s collapse for 226, was last man out when he was bowled by left-arm seamer Junaid Khan.
Junaid finished with 5-70, his second successive five-wicket haul, while off-spinner Saeed Ajmal claimed 3-66.
The third day’s play provided a keen tussle between bat and ball, compensating for the entire second day being lost due to rain. — AFP