Sri Lanka v Pakistan, 2nd Test, SSC, 2nd day August 15, 2014

Herath's five put Sri Lanka ahead

Pakistan 244 for 6 (Sarfraz 66*, Shehzad 58, Herath 5-98) trail Sri Lanka 320 (Tharanga 92, Junaid 5-87, Wahab 3-88) by 76 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

There is a reason why the SSC pitch is notorious for its reputation as the graveyard for bowlers. In the last five years and through the course of five matches, batsmen have collected 30 scores - 14 centuries and 16 fifties - of 50 or more in the first two innings. The pitch that was laid for this Test, Mahela Jayawardene's last, was no different. However, 16 wickets went down and only three batsmen were able to put up significant runs in the first two days here.

Whereas the failure of the Sri Lankan batting on the first day was triggered mostly by disciplined bowling from the Pakistan seamers, Pakistan found themselves in familiar strife due to a mix of some unlucky dismissals and a few inevitable rippers from Rangana Herath.

After a confident start, led by a half-century from Ahmed Shehzad, Pakistan's middle order stumbled again. The slide was briefly arrested by an enterprising 93-run sixth-wicket stand between Asad Shafiq and Sarfraz Ahmed. The pitch, as the two showed, was still good for batting. But by the end of the day, that stand was broken and Herath had yet another five-wicket haul - his 20th in Tests.

Khurram Manzoor was caught behind off Herath in the last over before lunch for 23. Azhar Ali used his feet smartly against the spinners and was playing solidly till he mistimed an attempted drive through off to midwicket to be dismissed for 32. Shehzad, who had 20 runs to show for his outing in Galle, was caught down the leg side off Dilruwan Perera in the penultimate over before tea, after scoring an aggressive 58 that had led Pakistan past 100 at a scoring rate well over three an over.

Then came the two big strikes soon after tea, the first of which was solely due to some excellent presence of mind from Kaushal Silva. Younis Khan defended Herath down on the pitch only to see the ball bounce off his boot. An alert Silva at silly point dived forward and slid his hand low, grabbed the ball one-handed, but realising he was not going to be able to control it, he parried it to the wicketkeeper for a simple chance. Younis didn't spot it, but the third umpire did, cutting his innings short on 13.

Misbah didn't have a chance against a flighted delivery from Herath that lured him forward and turned sharply to take the outside edge. It was the bowler's 250th Test wicket. From 110 for 1, Pakistan were down to 140 for 5. This, after the team had their best start in three innings. The openers added 47 in 8.4 overs and the second-wicket pair remained largely untroubled during their 63-run stand.

Pakistan were 180 short of Sri Lanka's total at that stage but the scoreboard pressure hardly made an impression on Sarfraz. Coming on the back of two fifties in Galle, Sarfraz was light-footed against the spinners and was always on the lookout for runs. He often employed the sweep, sometimes made room by moving towards leg stump and was comfortable playing the late cut to rotate the strike. The fifty of his stand with Shafiq took 63 balls. He remained the aggressor while Shafiq held the other end, scoring just two boundaries in his 42. Shafiq was however beaten by an arm-ball from Herath ten minutes before the close of play.

The start to the innings had been positive though. Manzoor drove Dhammika Prasad for consecutive boundaries in the first over and Shehzad bettered it with a hat-trick of boundaries off Chanaka Welegedara. Herath, who came in as early as the fifth over, made the breakthrough in the last over before lunch as he found turn to kiss the outside edge of Manzoor's bat.

Shehzad, however, continued playing with positivity, frequently using the sweep to unsettle Herath, whose first spell read 8-2-32-1. He went on to complete his second Test half-century in 68 balls but continuing with the theme of the match, he was dismissed after looking set.

Pakistan's batting took the sheen off Junaid Khan's effort that had helped them roll Sri Lanka out for 320. Junaid's unrelenting perseverance fetched him his fifth five-wicket haul, all of which have come against Sri Lanka, but the home team would have been satisfied with their tail's effort.

The last two wickets ate up more than an hour in the morning and added 59 runs, taking Sri Lanka past 300. Herath was the last batsman to be dismissed as he edged one off Abdur Rehman to slip where Younis took his 100th catch - the first Pakistan fielder to reach the figure.

Devashish Fuloria is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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