Younis steers Pakistan to victory
Pakistan 170 (Muralitharan 5-39) and 183 (Farhat 65, Younis 73*) beat Sri Lanka 279 (Sangakkara 79, Samaraweera 65, Asif 6-44) and 73 (Asif 5-27) by eight wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
How they were out
Led by contrasting half-centuries from Younis Khan and Imran Farhat, Pakistan strolled to an ultimately comfortable eight-wicket win over Sri Lanka on the third afternoon of the final Test at the Asgiriya Stadium in Kandy. With it they won the series - their third in succession - and kept their remarkable record of not having lost a series, or even a Test, in Sri Lanka for 20 years.
Younis and Farhat put on 116 runs for the second wicket either side of lunch to seal the matter but it was only after the break, when a burst of boundaries sapped a mighty Sri Lankan effort, that victory looked certain. Until then and after Muttiah Muralitharan's dismissal first ball in the morning, it seemed destined to be one of those chases; deceptive targets, jumpy pitch, two pacemen, a champion spinner and a fragile batting line-up.
The start did nothing to soothe the nerves of either side; Kamran Akmal and Farhat scored quickly enough to worry Sri Lanka but with enough streakiness, enough edginess to worry their own side. Farveez Maharoof rattled Farhat with a bouncer, Akmal saw the ball jag sharply away and though he drove through covers for four as Pakistan took nine runs from the over, it didn't fill anyone with much confidence. It continued this way for a while.
Farhat was beaten - the first of many such occasions - and Akmal did a Thilan Samaraweera and left one from Maharoof that almost kissed off-stump as it went past. The next ball was cut uppishly past gully for four. Farhat drove past mid-off in the next over but only after having been beaten again and it really was proper see-saw stuff; Akmal drove Maharoof in the fifth over through square cover and next ball almost popped a leading edge to point.
Lasith Malinga's introduction in the eighth over brought the prospect of a fascinating pint-sized battle especially as Akmal drove him through extra cover. This time though, next ball, Akmal was gone, thanks in no small part to Kumar Sangakkara's outstanding leap. At 38 for 1, trouble brewed.
Farhat was playing a full, healthy role in calming nobody's nerves. The red ball beat his bat so religiously it was taking revenge for the battering its white cousin received at the Wanderers a few weeks ago. He mixed forceful drives with play-and-misses, but he wasn't timing the ball particularly well. On three occasions, his shots fell inches short of fielders: an edge short of slip, a drive short of covers, a hoick short of mid-on.
Maharoof thought he brushed the edge of Farhat's bat in the seventh over and Muralitharan thought he trapped him at least twice just before lunch, from each side of the wicket for good measure, all three denied. Predictably, Muralitharan's arrival in the morning had pulled back the run-rate. A no-ball in the over before drinks - the 11th - brought up Pakistan's fifty, but off the next 14 overs till the break, of which Muralitharan bowled six, only 40 more were added.
Younis, though, was yin to Farhat's yang from the moment he arrived, countering his edginess. After beginning with straight boundaries, driven either side of the wicket, he was content to nudge, glance and deflect as many singles as he could. The fifty partnership came three overs before lunch after a near run-out and a leg-before appeal; despite his own best efforts to do otherwise, Farhat had lasted the morning session.
Lunch clearly unshackled both. Younis cut Malinga in the very first over and a Farhat drive through extra cover off Muralitharan brought up Pakistan's hundred and psychological relief. Three fours from Malinga's next over - typically one streaky and two sumptuous - eased further pressure and brought Farhat near his fifty. It was duly reached in the next over, when he slogged Malinga Bandara over mid-on for his ninth boundary.
Floodgates open and Sri Lankan shoulders drooping, Younis then partook in the frolic. Muralitharan was driven, as was Bandara, and a steer to point for three brought up an intelligent, soothing - and much-needed - half-century. By the time Farhat edged Nuwan Kulasekara to slip - ironically, he got out the only time he looked really set - it hardly mattered. The pair had added 62 in under ten overs after lunch and the match was effectively over. Pakistan, in the process of conceding a 109-run lead this time yesterday afternoon, were busy completing yet another improbable heist; having done it against England in Multan and India at Karachi recently, some might call it a useful habit.
Muttiah Muralitharan c Gul b Razzaq 0 (73 for 9)
Slogged a good length loosener high but only to mid-on
Kamran Akmal c Sangakkara b Malinga 24 (38 for 1)
Edges a bouncing away swinger for keeper to take magnificent leaping catch
Imran Farhat c Jayawardene b Kulasekara 65 (152 for 2)
Tentatively hangs his bat out and edges to slip
Osman Samiuddin is Pakistan editor of Cricinfo