Third Test


At Faisalabad, January 2, 3, 4, 6, 7. Pakistan won by three wickets. Toss: Pakistan. Sri Lanka gave Pakistan a big scare as they almost achieved their first victory on foreign soil and their first series-win over Pakistan in the decisive Test at Faisalabad. They had competed on equal terms right through the five days. Eventually they lost with just three Pakistan wickets intact. The home team started the final day at 95 for four, requiring another 90 runs. Zahid Fazal provided much-needed solidity, adding 23 runs in 80 minutes to his overnight 55. When he was fifth out, at 149, the target looked attainable. Opening in place of Shoaib Mohammad, who was unwell, he batted in all more than four hours, reaching his first fifty in his sixth Test. Wasim Akram hit a worthy 54 and the winning runs were brought up by wicket-keeper Moin Khan.

After Imran Khan had invited Sri Lanka to bat, the visitors made a good start; the 81-run opening stand between Mahanama and Hathurusinghe broke the previous record for Sri Lanka against Pakistan, 77 by S. Wettimuny and H. M. Goonatillake, also at Faisalabad, in 1981-82. But the innings of the day was played by left-hander Jayasuriya, who reached an unbeaten 50 from 68 balls, with nine fours, by close of play, to lift his team to 205 for nine after Ranatunga had fallen for his third successive duck of the series. He went on to 81, his highest Test score.

On the second day, marred by a couple of stoppages for bad light, Pakistan started slowly, and consumed 54 overs on their way to an overnight score of 117 for two. Ramiz Raja made his third consecutive fifty in a 102-run first-wicket partnership with Shoaib. But the third day belonged to Sri Lanka, whose seamers, Wijegunawardene and Wickremasinghe, gained them a 19-run first-innings lead. The 20-year-old Wickremasinghe took five wickets in a Test innings for the first time. By the close, Sri Lanka had extended that lead to 87, but for the loss of three batsmen. Next day they crashed for 165. Once again Jayasuriya was left fighting for his team's cause, against the pace trio of Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis and Aqib Javed; Waqar finished with match figures of nine for 152 and his seventh five-wicket haul in his 14th Test. Judging by the low scores in the previous three innings, Pakistan's target of 185 was a tall order, and so it proved. But Zahid and Wasim put them on the road to victory.

The Faisalabad Test was also notable for a record 14 lbw decisions, given by two umpires making a comeback. Shakoor Rana had not stood in a Test since his confrontation with Mike Gatting, at the same venue in 1987-88, whereas Khalid Aziz last officiated at Test level in 1979-80.

Man of the Match: Wasim Akram.

Close of play: First day, Sri Lanka 205-9 ( S. T. Jayasuriya 50*, G. P. Wickremasinghe 0*); Second day, Pakistan 117-2 ( Zahid Fazal 6*, Javed Miandad 0*); Third day, Sri Lanka 68-3 ( P. A. De Silva 18*, K. I. W. Wijegunawardene 1*); Fourth day, Pakistan 95-4 ( Zahid Fazal 55*, Wasim Akram 19*).

© John Wisden & Co