Player of the Match
Player of the Match

Sri Lanka take control after 15-wicket day

Sri Lanka 482 and 34 for 5 (Mendis 8*) lead Pakistan 262 (Azhar 59, Sohail 56, Dilruwan 3-72, Herath 3-84) by 254 runs

Ever the entertainers, Pakistan first made a lavish surrender with the bat, then came hurtling back into the game with the ball, during an extraordinary 15-wicket day in Dubai. Though they ceded a 220-run first-innings lead to Sri Lanka, so total was their dominance in the last 14.3 overs of the day, that their hopes of squaring the series live for another day.

Wahab Riaz, in one of his wonderfully intense bursts, uprooted three batsmen while conceding only 10 runs, as Yasir Shah and Mohammad Abbas took one wicket apiece. Though they had seemed almost completely out of the match only one hour prior, it is Sri Lanka who will be under most strain when play begins again on day four. They have five wickets in hand still, but were only 254 runs ahead after the third day. They have lost matches from stronger positions in the past three years.

Three separate collapses defined day three. The first arrived in the afternoon session. Pakistan had begun the day at 61 for no loss, but soon haemhorrhaged four wickets for 48 runs, putting Sri Lanka in control of the Test - or so it was thought. Shan Masood was the first to go, allowing debutant Lahiru Gamage to jag a ball through his defences from around the wicket. Sami Aslam - the more confident of the openers - was soon trapped in front by Dilruwan Perera. Having lost their overnight pair inside the first six overs of the day, Pakistan's senior batsmen Asad Shafiq and Azhar Ali attempted a steady recovery. A fine piece of reverse-swing bowling from Suranga Lakmal, however, removed Shafiq. Swinging the ball in to the batsman, then straightening it off the seam, Lakmal collected Shafiq's edge and had him caught low to the ground, by a tumbling Kusal Mendis at first slip. Babar Azam's dismissal just before the tea break was largely the batsman's own doing: he tamely bunted an unremarkable Rangana Herath delivery to short midwicket.

The second was Pakistan's surrender of six wickets for 82 runs, beginning with the dismissal of Azhar Ali towards the tail end of the twilight session. Their batsmen appeared muddled right through that period, Azhar, Haris Sohail and Mohammad Amir all being dismissed lbw by the spinners, before Sri Lanka's quicks wiped out the last two wickets with the second new ball. The bowlers shared around the rewards. Dilruwan and Herath claimed three wickets each, while Suranga Lakmal and Lahiru Gamage took two apiece. Captain Dinesh Chandimal can take a little credit as well - two of the wickets in this period came from overturning umpires' decisions, via reviews.

It was the third collapse, however, that was the most dramatic. All Sri Lanka had to do when they began their second innings was to see out the new ball, with a view to scoring roughly 200 on day four in order to set up a declaration. But this being a Pakistan-Sri Lanka Test, things rarely go that smoothly for an ascendant team.

Mohammad Abbas made the initial breakthrough, getting Kaushal Silva to nick a straightening ball behind. Then the big wicket. Dimuth Karunaratne aimed a cut off a wide Wahab delivery, but managed only to deflect the ball back on to his wickets - the second time he has fallen in this fashion, to the same bowler, in this Test. Wahab then had Sadeera Samarawickrama glove the ball to the wicketkeeper, trying to hook a legside bouncer. Then he struck Chandimal in front with a ball that would have gone on to clip the top of leg stump. In between, Yasir also had nightwatchman Suranga Lakmal out lbw.

The only extended wicket-free patch of day three came in the second session, as Azhar and Sohail made 71 runs in each other's company. Haris attacked occasionally, flitting down the pitch to launch Herath over the straight boundary twice, while Azhar hit his boundaries through cover. But it was the singles and twos that defined their partnership. Azhar favoured the legside, stepping out towards off stump to flick or sweep the spinners. Haris scored square of the pitch on both sides, hitting two memorable fours behind point, off Perera and Nuwan Pradeep. Both went on to make half-centuries, but were each dismissed before they could reach 60. Without this partnership, Pakistan would have been out of the match completely.

The expressions of Pakistan head coach Mickey Arthur, on the dressing room balcony, summed up his team's day the best. He was visibly disappointed in the afternoon, tense through the twilight session, then grumpy as Pakistan's middle and lower order threw their wickets away. At stumps, he was grinning.

End of an era


No. of Test series lost by Pakistan in the UAE since they started playing their home games there in 2010, before this. They had won five and drew four of the nine series.

Strong comeback


Asad Shafiq's average in 10 Test innings this year, before this century in the fourth innings. His highest score in those innings was only 39.

Biggest turnaround?


Most runs added by the last 5 wickets in a successful chase, by Australia against Pakistan in Hobart in 1999-00. If Pakistan wins this Test, they would have added 265 runs for the last 5 wkts and will be a record.

Big difference


Difference in Sri Lanka's totals in this match - 482 & 96 - their highest ever in a Test. Previous highest was 383 v Australia at SSC in 1992.

Contrasting innings


Score at which Sri Lanka lost their 5th wicket in the second innings. They were at 370 when the fifth wicket fell in the first innings.

Yasir's hot streak


No. of consecutive Tests in which Yasir Shah has picked at least one five-wicket haul. He's the first spinner to do so.

Going on and on


No. of times in last 3 years Karunaratne has played innings of 300+ balls in Tests - most among all openers. Cook and Azhar Ali have batted 3 such innings.

Only the third


Runs for Karunaratne as opener in Tests. He's only the third Sri Lanka opener to do so after Jayasuriya (5932) and Atapattu (5317).

Karunratne-Chandimal show


No. of 100+ partnerships for the fourth-wicket for Sri Lanka in this series, both between Karunaratne and Chandimal. In the home series against India they could add only a total of 77 runs from six fourth-wicket stands.

Openers' high


Last time a Sri Lanka openers scored 3 or more Test 100s in a year, before Karunaratne this time. Dilshan had hit 3 in 2012. Only Elgar (5) has scored more 100s than Karunaratne in 2017.

Bumper year


No. of 50+ scores by Dimuth Karunaratne in Tests this year - the most among all Sri Lanka players. Among all players, only Elgar, Rahul, Pujara and Root have more such scores.

Strong start


Samarawickrama's strike rate in his first-class career, before making his Test debut in this match. He's striking at over 100 in his debut innings. He averaged 63.63 in 2016-17 season with 4 centuries in 21 innings.

Day/Night debut


Sri Lanka are playing their maiden Day/Night Test while Pakistan are playing their third.