Galle, July 19 (IANS) Abdullah Shafique’s spirited unbeaten century kept Pakistan’s run chase on track in the first Test against Sri Lanka despite losing the wicket of skipper Babar Azam’s wicket in the final hour of engrossing fourth day at Galle International Stadium, here on Tuesday.
Pakistan were 222/3 at stumps on Day 4, still needing 120 runs to overhaul the target with Shafique (112 not out) and Mohammad Rizwan (7 not out) at crease.
Beginning the fourth day, the hosts were able to add just eight runs to their overnight total, with Naseem Shah rattling the off stump of No 11 Prabath Jayasuriya to bowl out Sri Lanka for 337 in their second innings.
Jayasuriya’s wicket meant that Dinesh Chandimal was left stranded in the 90s. He was the highest scorer in the second innings, finishing on 94 not out with five fours and two sixes. As a result, Sri Lanka set Pakistan a target of 342, a total no side has successfully chased at Galle.
Chasing a challenging total, Abdullah Shafique survived a close lbw review in the fourth over despite the ball projection hitting the leg-stump when the ball-tracker showed it was an umpire’s call. His opening partner Imam-ul-Haq also survived an lbw review in the next over.
With luck on their side, the openers soon completed a half-century stand, going to lunch at 68/0.
Shafique was solid from the beginning, batting with intent and took the attack to the bowlers. Even after Imam got out early in the second session, Shafique continued in the same vein. A brief stand with Azhar Ali (6) followed but Shafique found the perfect partner in Babar Azam.
Babar got off the mark with crunching on-drive, clubbed Jayasuriya for a maximum two overs later and continued to rotate the strike effectively. By tea, the partnership was approaching fifty with 147/2 on board.
The duo rapidly scaled milestones, Babar Azam going past 3000 Test runs and eventually getting his 22nd Test half-century. Shafique too followed, completing his second Test hundred with the second-wicket stand crossing 100. The crucial stand was eventually broken when Jayasuriya bowled Babar on 55.
Shafique and Rizwan then negotiated the last few overs and they will resume Pakistan’s innings on the last day.
Brief Scores: Sri Lanka 222 and 337 (Dinesh Chandimal 94 not out, Kusal Mendis 76; Mohammad Nawaz 5-88) lead Pakistan 218 and 222/3 (Abdullah Shafique 112 not out; Prabath Jayasuriya 2-89) by 119 runs