Sri Lanka v Pakistan, 3rd Test, Pallekele, 4th day July 11, 2012

Sri Lanka in control despite Ali ton

37

Pakistan 226 and 299 for 8 (Ali 136, Shafiq 55*, Hafeez 52) lead Sri Lanka 337 by 188 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Pakistan showed how tough a challenge coming from behind in a Test can prove. Even though they erased the deficit of 111 runs with relative ease, their position in the match was never secure. Even in conditions in which the assistance to bowlers had reduced drastically, the Pakistan batsmen struggled to perform collectively. Azhar Ali's solid, determined century was the glue that held their innings together, but even he, despite having batted over six hours and taken the lead past 150, was not immune against a seemingly harmless delivery that got him out. On a day that began with Pakistan needing to bat positively to set a competitive target, Sri Lanka moved ahead with a good chance of winning the series 2-0, though a test against a strong bowling attack awaits them.

Dilhara Fernando, in and out of the side for the past 12 years and currently on his 17th comeback, bowled quick, varied his lengths, slipped in his split-finger slower balls as well as accurate yorkers. But a couple of unlikely candidates for wicket-taking deliveries broke two fluent partnerships that looked good for more. A full and wide delivery prompted Mohammad Hafeez to chase it after adding 94 with Ali, only to land safely in the hands of the slip fielder. A short and wide delivery that kept a little low produced a slash, and a fatal edge, from Ali after a century-stand with Asad Shafiq, removing the biggest obstacle between Sri Lanka and a chaseable target.

While Fernando delivered against the flow, en route to his 100th Test wicket, left-arm spinner Rangana Herath accounted for Pakistan's two most experienced batsmen, forcing the settled Ali to restrain himself and focus on rebuilding and damage control instead of stepping up the scoring in an effort to level the series.

Herath hardly got any turn until much later in the day, and was often met with batsmen charging out to him, defending, working it around and, in the case of Ali, driving him comfortably through extra cover. Younis Khan tried the same one ball after a 48-run stand with Ali, but failed to get to the pitch of a flat delivery; the ball scraped the thumb and lobbed up before silly point to be taken smartly by an alert Tharanga Paranavitana. Misbah-ul-Haq showed some intent straightaway, attempting a slog-sweep second ball. But when he tried to drive a loopy delivery from Herath, he edged to slip and departed for just 5.

Amid all this, Ali showed a lot of maturity and confidence, having taken the responsibility to anchor the innings. Early in the day, with some movement on offer, he was content leaving deliveries outside off when Nuwan Kulasekara got the odd one to nip away, and adept at playing his preferred inswingers through midwicket and square leg. Extra cover was his favourite area, and he cashed in when allowed the room to free his arms. Kulasekara, Fernando, Mathews and Herath were all punished through that region, even with a deep point in place in the case of the seamers. He was strong down the ground as well, driving Fernando and Thisara Perera for boundaries, but in a hardworking knock, the singles were no less significant. He and Hafeez ran 39 out of 92 this morning in singles, and 40 out of 100 with Shafiq.

Shafiq was impressive in his first innings' 75 in more difficult conditions; he followed it up with another important contribution, and remains key to prolonging Pakistan's innings and stretching their lead on the final day. If Ali's strength was the off side, Shafiq continued to be dominant square of the wicket. He wasn't given the width he got in the first innings, but the straight deliveries were whipped and pulled through square leg and midwicket. With a sound technique and footwork, and the potential to bat long, he and Ali are increasingly showing they can be the future mainstays of Pakistan's middle order. But having lost Ali, and watched Mohammad Sami, Umar Gul and Saeed Ajmal trapped in front in a space of seven overs, he was left battling with an injured Adnan Akmal for company.

The highlights for Pakistan on the fourth day promised much for their Test future, but the team was still behind at stumps.Their big hope, yet again, remains a Junaid Khan-led retaliation.

Siddhartha Talya is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • EnglishCricket on July 14, 2012, 10:40 GMT

    Pakistan should be stripped of all forms of International Cricket because it is clear they have no future and most of their players are old. They do have some young talent but a team like Ireland are more demanding as compared with Pakistan who will not hold International matches anymore so they should seriously consider moving themselves away from all forms of Cricket. This tour for them was miserable and I'm sure the the same will be for the future.

  • on July 12, 2012, 6:18 GMT

    Hi guys, pakistan has managed a formidable lead of 270, thanks God and well done two As...

  • ameerhyder786 on July 12, 2012, 5:42 GMT

    Look at the conditions for the last test in Sri Lanka. We need swing bowlers. Umar Gul and Anwar Ali. No Junaid since he has no batting.

  • Mad_Hamish on July 12, 2012, 4:29 GMT

    @gunnerr4life which explains why from 36 tests Sami has 85 wickets @52

  • AshanRox on July 12, 2012, 3:07 GMT

    Oh what a beautiful day it was yesterday here in Kandy. This iis the most beautiful-est ground in Sri lanka!! Absolutely amazing views all around:) Sun is shining, No sings of rain at all, and we got a match here! Now all Pakistan has to do is bat 40 overs and make sure they get passed 230 runs. They have to take a risk. And Sri lankans they can do wonders!

  • on July 12, 2012, 2:11 GMT

    i hope match is a draw if pakistan plays for 20 overs

  • gunnerr4life on July 11, 2012, 23:55 GMT

    Misbah has to give the new ball to mohd. sami if he really wants to win the match because he is an aggressive bowler who can destroy an opponent's batting order with his sheer pace ...

  • AndyZaltzmannsHair on July 11, 2012, 23:49 GMT

    @Jackthelad: I don't think Pak have played all that bad this series. They've been extremely unlucky with bad umpiring decisions, bad weather and now an injured wicketkeeper. Evert Test they've had setbacks outside of their control. On balance of play the two teams have been very closely matched. SL have played their best Test cricket since Muralis retirement and credit to them.

  • on July 11, 2012, 23:06 GMT

    i think the match will be tough cz if pakistan makes 40 more runs by sloging that would be enough to have a gud competetion and hopefully the rai does not interfares

  • The_bowlers_Holding on July 11, 2012, 22:17 GMT

    Having watched the start of SL first innings I would say Pakistan have the capability to win, this is by no means over. Junaid Khan looks exciting and with Ajmal on a day 5 pitch you never know, Gul is too inconsistent thought you need to keep on with good line and length and make the batsmen make mistakes and they will come he is erratic; a target of 200ish will mean they have to go for it. I'm a neutral English fan and quite like both sides I have seen some of this test though and thought some of the decisions have been erroneous mainly at the detriment of Pakistan; I do not think that is bias just that's the way it seems to go when you are losing (why no DRS in this series, is it cost?)

  • EnglishCricket on July 14, 2012, 10:40 GMT

    Pakistan should be stripped of all forms of International Cricket because it is clear they have no future and most of their players are old. They do have some young talent but a team like Ireland are more demanding as compared with Pakistan who will not hold International matches anymore so they should seriously consider moving themselves away from all forms of Cricket. This tour for them was miserable and I'm sure the the same will be for the future.

  • on July 12, 2012, 6:18 GMT

    Hi guys, pakistan has managed a formidable lead of 270, thanks God and well done two As...

  • ameerhyder786 on July 12, 2012, 5:42 GMT

    Look at the conditions for the last test in Sri Lanka. We need swing bowlers. Umar Gul and Anwar Ali. No Junaid since he has no batting.

  • Mad_Hamish on July 12, 2012, 4:29 GMT

    @gunnerr4life which explains why from 36 tests Sami has 85 wickets @52

  • AshanRox on July 12, 2012, 3:07 GMT

    Oh what a beautiful day it was yesterday here in Kandy. This iis the most beautiful-est ground in Sri lanka!! Absolutely amazing views all around:) Sun is shining, No sings of rain at all, and we got a match here! Now all Pakistan has to do is bat 40 overs and make sure they get passed 230 runs. They have to take a risk. And Sri lankans they can do wonders!

  • on July 12, 2012, 2:11 GMT

    i hope match is a draw if pakistan plays for 20 overs

  • gunnerr4life on July 11, 2012, 23:55 GMT

    Misbah has to give the new ball to mohd. sami if he really wants to win the match because he is an aggressive bowler who can destroy an opponent's batting order with his sheer pace ...

  • AndyZaltzmannsHair on July 11, 2012, 23:49 GMT

    @Jackthelad: I don't think Pak have played all that bad this series. They've been extremely unlucky with bad umpiring decisions, bad weather and now an injured wicketkeeper. Evert Test they've had setbacks outside of their control. On balance of play the two teams have been very closely matched. SL have played their best Test cricket since Muralis retirement and credit to them.

  • on July 11, 2012, 23:06 GMT

    i think the match will be tough cz if pakistan makes 40 more runs by sloging that would be enough to have a gud competetion and hopefully the rai does not interfares

  • The_bowlers_Holding on July 11, 2012, 22:17 GMT

    Having watched the start of SL first innings I would say Pakistan have the capability to win, this is by no means over. Junaid Khan looks exciting and with Ajmal on a day 5 pitch you never know, Gul is too inconsistent thought you need to keep on with good line and length and make the batsmen make mistakes and they will come he is erratic; a target of 200ish will mean they have to go for it. I'm a neutral English fan and quite like both sides I have seen some of this test though and thought some of the decisions have been erroneous mainly at the detriment of Pakistan; I do not think that is bias just that's the way it seems to go when you are losing (why no DRS in this series, is it cost?)

  • Rakim on July 11, 2012, 21:57 GMT

    Weather and umpires have played against Pak so far. I hope Ajmal/Gul/Junaid/Sami get 10 wickets for us tomorrow

  • jackthelad on July 11, 2012, 21:12 GMT

    Once upon a time - and, indeed, it wasn't that bad a time (though i wouldn't go so far as Joyce) - there was a thing called 'free speech', and that also wasn't a bad thing. Now it seems the 'free colloquium' of even the internet is ruled by people who can't take criticism. It's not a good sign. Fix it quick.

  • on July 11, 2012, 20:57 GMT

    DRS, DRS, DRS that is needed l More umpiring decisions in favour of Srilanka than Pakistan. I am not surprised that Srilanka will win with a bit of help from BIG BROTHER-Steve Davis

  • davidatlas999 on July 11, 2012, 20:05 GMT

    If pkaistan manage 250 then it will b a very good contest.srilanka facing test last day pressure.

  • umair_khan88 on July 11, 2012, 19:35 GMT

    Rathan-Santhavath are u sure pakistan gonna loose this match are u serious???its pakistani bowling attack not a indian bowling....maybe ur thinking its the indian bowling..pakistan bowling can break any defence in the world cricket...

  • umair_khan88 on July 11, 2012, 19:29 GMT

    Pakistan will gonna win this match even if they don't score a single run tommorow u guys will see..

  • jackthelad on July 11, 2012, 19:20 GMT

    Point is, when you're coming from behind, every little slip assumes the proportions of a mammoth misjudgment; Pakistan didn't set much of a total, and were always behind the eight-ball in the second innings, though there were some good performances. Now, the SL bowling, and the Pallekele pitch, of the second innings are little different from those of the first - the thing is, Pakistan - a side with stores of potential talent - seem to bottle it at the slightest opportunity. I don't say SL will win, but morally they have won in forcing an inordinately poor set of performances from a highly talented Pakistan.

  • on July 11, 2012, 19:07 GMT

    no matter what happen , looking for very interesting 5 day.both teams can win.hopefully no rain

  • on July 11, 2012, 18:28 GMT

    A TEAM WHOSE HALF OF THE BATSMEN SELDOM REACH 2 FIGURE SCORE.. IS BOUND TO SUFFER DEFEATS .. IT GOT HUMILIATED IN ONE ODIS . .. IT WILL 2-0 IN TEST AS WELL .. COZ THEY WONT BE ADDING MOER THAN 10 RUNS TOMORROW .. MATCH SHUD BE OVER BY TEA TMROW ..I THINK ITS TIEM TEHY SHUD GET RID OF ADNAN AKMAL AND SAMI

  • on July 11, 2012, 18:27 GMT

    SL victory is guaranteed because Pitch is lot easier for batting, SL batsman are in good form, Pak bowling is weak, Pak will drop 2-3 catches definitely.....so it will be an easy victory for SL tomorrow... Bad luck for Pakistan as they lost first series under Misbah as captian....

  • on July 11, 2012, 18:07 GMT

    InshAllaha ,tommrow,s headline ajmal has secured unbelieveble win for pakistan...

  • Resultpredictor on July 11, 2012, 17:39 GMT

    Pak cannot win this match. Pitch is lot more easier for batting and there is neither turn nor bounce, SL batting is in good form and Pak bowling is looking very weak so it will be an easy chase for SL provided there is no rain tomorrow. This is first series loss for Misbah as captain and first series win for SL since Murali's retirement.

  • Rathan-S on July 11, 2012, 17:27 GMT

    @Eat_sleep_play_cricket : you will see tomorrow. Now where are the pakistanis who told they had won this match? Pak not even have 200 lead, u expect victory? HaHaHa!

  • mainul079080 on July 11, 2012, 17:23 GMT

    Scoreboard pressure is most important issue in 4th innings runchase than the pitch condition. Pitch is almost batting friendly now. But if Pakistan give a target of 250 then i think Pakistan will win this match. But they should give at least 70 overs to their bowlers. Srilanka will feel a lot comfort to chase anything under 200.

  • getsetgopk on July 11, 2012, 17:21 GMT

    another pathetic decision from umpires, Sami was clearly not out though a tailender but still in a low scoring game could very well be the difference, besides a target of around 230 would very well be a tricky one as Eng found out the hard way back in UAE, not so sure SL too would be lucky with play and miss for a whole morning session as they were in on the third morning but all in all should be a thrilling end to the series, weather permitting that is.

  • on July 11, 2012, 17:19 GMT

    Pakistan should make a new start and get rid of all the old wood like Misbah, Younis, Afridi, Sami, Hafieez for once and all. Start with new players.

  • superstar100 on July 11, 2012, 17:02 GMT

    SRL can chase easily 250+ Pak has gud bowlers but my friends what about fielding ??? i am sure PAK will lose this game due to it's poor fielding .. we have seen in 1 ining 3 catches drop and all of them cost lot of runs ..

  • HIKAIFI on July 11, 2012, 16:43 GMT

    With mediocrity the rule of the day and Captain and Vice Captain hardly contributing you can not expect anything better. Ahmed Shahzad and Sarfaraz Ahmad sitting outside with Hafeez and Adnan Akmal playing what else we can expect. Under utilisation of Sami in first innings may cost us the match. Persons like Waqar Younus and Ramiz Raja full time criticising Sami the performance cannot be better.

  • suharshan on July 11, 2012, 15:54 GMT

    Dilhara is the most underrated bowler in Sri lanka

  • on July 11, 2012, 15:42 GMT

    on a track like this sri Lanka mush have bowled out Pakistan with a maximum lead of 150 or below. I believe that anything above 150 is gonna be a tough task ans still two wickers remaining

  • on July 11, 2012, 15:41 GMT

    Anything below 250 should be chased by Sri Lanka, but Pakistan bowling is their strength

  • TheRedox on July 11, 2012, 15:40 GMT

    Adnan Akmal..Be careful.Dilhara Fernando's first target would be your fingers.Expect a lot of short balls from Fernando and co tomorrow morning.

  • TheRedox on July 11, 2012, 15:38 GMT

    I'm not trying to be pessimistic here.But SL's chasing should be well organize.I'm sure Pakisthan will bundle out for less than 250.But SL should approach the target very sensibly.Sure players like Sanga and Mahela most unlikely to fail twice consecutively.Looking at the pitch day 5 will be the best for bating if weather permits.

  • Eat_Sleep_Play_Cricket on July 11, 2012, 15:37 GMT

    Headline "Srilanka in Control despite Azhar Ali ton" does not make sense. I'm not even sure if Srilanka can save this match with close to 200 runs to score on the last day.

    Well played Pakistan.. From an Indian Cricket Fan.

  • khurramsch on July 11, 2012, 15:36 GMT

    lot of debate about pak should scored quickly & push but they were never in a position really. 111 was finished with 2 wickets down & misbah younas went so cheaply leaving lead 65/4 with adnan uncertain & tail as useless as this there was no chance. asad & azahr did wel to just didnt collapsed & by the end of day added 125 runs more that when misbah out.now they should play as much balls possible & score as much runs as possible. & then see what happens. victory for pak is difficult at this point.problem for them apart from junaid no other bowler is in control even not ajmal. & pitch has eased off now.

  • khurramsch on July 11, 2012, 15:30 GMT

    toufeq got a rough from umpire so cant say him much but NO contributions(excluding sami as he got poor decison) from younas,misbah,ajmal,gul made it worst for pakistan.hafez once again played very poor shot & it has been his well known problem to getout after starts.if adnan was coming to bat then he should have come before sami ajmal gul. asad need to learn how to play with tailenders.in 1st inings it happened & now again. now pak can look to play whatever overs possible & add any runs possible & then see what happen. problem for pak that apart from junaid ,others failed to dictate terms even ajmal. & pitch seems to be settled now.111 runslead proved too much because of poor pak fielding.

  • on July 11, 2012, 15:23 GMT

    SL just 2 wickets away from 2-0 series victory...... CONGRATS SL.

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  • on July 11, 2012, 15:23 GMT

    SL just 2 wickets away from 2-0 series victory...... CONGRATS SL.

  • khurramsch on July 11, 2012, 15:30 GMT

    toufeq got a rough from umpire so cant say him much but NO contributions(excluding sami as he got poor decison) from younas,misbah,ajmal,gul made it worst for pakistan.hafez once again played very poor shot & it has been his well known problem to getout after starts.if adnan was coming to bat then he should have come before sami ajmal gul. asad need to learn how to play with tailenders.in 1st inings it happened & now again. now pak can look to play whatever overs possible & add any runs possible & then see what happen. problem for pak that apart from junaid ,others failed to dictate terms even ajmal. & pitch seems to be settled now.111 runslead proved too much because of poor pak fielding.

  • khurramsch on July 11, 2012, 15:36 GMT

    lot of debate about pak should scored quickly & push but they were never in a position really. 111 was finished with 2 wickets down & misbah younas went so cheaply leaving lead 65/4 with adnan uncertain & tail as useless as this there was no chance. asad & azahr did wel to just didnt collapsed & by the end of day added 125 runs more that when misbah out.now they should play as much balls possible & score as much runs as possible. & then see what happens. victory for pak is difficult at this point.problem for them apart from junaid no other bowler is in control even not ajmal. & pitch has eased off now.

  • Eat_Sleep_Play_Cricket on July 11, 2012, 15:37 GMT

    Headline "Srilanka in Control despite Azhar Ali ton" does not make sense. I'm not even sure if Srilanka can save this match with close to 200 runs to score on the last day.

    Well played Pakistan.. From an Indian Cricket Fan.

  • TheRedox on July 11, 2012, 15:38 GMT

    I'm not trying to be pessimistic here.But SL's chasing should be well organize.I'm sure Pakisthan will bundle out for less than 250.But SL should approach the target very sensibly.Sure players like Sanga and Mahela most unlikely to fail twice consecutively.Looking at the pitch day 5 will be the best for bating if weather permits.

  • TheRedox on July 11, 2012, 15:40 GMT

    Adnan Akmal..Be careful.Dilhara Fernando's first target would be your fingers.Expect a lot of short balls from Fernando and co tomorrow morning.

  • on July 11, 2012, 15:41 GMT

    Anything below 250 should be chased by Sri Lanka, but Pakistan bowling is their strength

  • on July 11, 2012, 15:42 GMT

    on a track like this sri Lanka mush have bowled out Pakistan with a maximum lead of 150 or below. I believe that anything above 150 is gonna be a tough task ans still two wickers remaining

  • suharshan on July 11, 2012, 15:54 GMT

    Dilhara is the most underrated bowler in Sri lanka

  • HIKAIFI on July 11, 2012, 16:43 GMT

    With mediocrity the rule of the day and Captain and Vice Captain hardly contributing you can not expect anything better. Ahmed Shahzad and Sarfaraz Ahmad sitting outside with Hafeez and Adnan Akmal playing what else we can expect. Under utilisation of Sami in first innings may cost us the match. Persons like Waqar Younus and Ramiz Raja full time criticising Sami the performance cannot be better.