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At Karachi, March 12, 13, 14, 15. Pakistan won by 222 runs. Toss: Sri Lanka. Test debut: Irfan Fazil. Pakistan salvaged some pride with a consolation win inside four days to extend their unbeaten record at Karachi's National Stadium to 34 Tests and set aside fears of a first-ever whitewash on home soil. It was certainly a felicitous result for captain Moin Khan, who had returned to the side and was initially deputising for the injured Saeed Anwar; he found himself doing the job on a more permanent basis when Anwar relinquished it. Inzamam-ul-Haq celebrated his promotion to vice-captain with two match-winning innings.
Other changes saw Naved Ashraf come in to open the innings with Shahid Afridi, so providing Pakistan's fourth opening partnership in three Tests - Afridi was promoted from the middle order at Peshawar - while Ijaz Ahmed returned in place of Aamir Sohail. Out went off-spinner Arshad Khan as Pakistan turned to a four-man pace attack, supplemented by Afridi's leg-spin: Mohammad Akram was recalled and the Lahore 18-year-old, Irfan Fazil, introduced. Sri Lanka's only change was de Saram for the injured de Silva.
Muralitharan, with match figures of eight for 196, was again outstanding for the visitors and, in his 51st Test, became the first Sri Lankan to claim 250 wickets when he had Naved lbw in the second innings. This time, however, Sri Lanka's batting gave ground to the home team, and in particular Inzamam. On the opening day, he soon lost Afridi - whose 74 in 92 balls, after Pakistan were put in, contained 12 fours and a six - and Pakistan were seven wickets down before Shoaib Akhtar helped him add 50. Shoaib then had a hand in Inzamam's run-out for a watchful 86 in four hours. Sri Lanka were batting by the close, but next day, without a major contribution, they conceded a first-innings lead for the first time in the series.
Inzamam lit up the third day with his ninth Test hundred, a magnificent 138 in five and a half hours replete with 17 signature fours and a six (off Muralitharan). He was dropped on 56, ten runs before becoming the fifth Pakistani to score 4,000 Test runs. Not even the Sri Lankans' sledging could interrupt his progress, although Inzamam, son of an Islamic saint, was drawn to complain to umpire Tiffin about the language used. "They [the close fielders] were sometimes sledging and continuously tried to disturb my concentration," he was quoted as saying.
Sparkling half-centuries by Younis Khan, who put on 124 for the sixth wicket with Inzamam, and by Moin meant that Sri Lanka faced a daunting target of 451 as they began their second innings nine overs before lunch on the fourth day. When half the side were out within 22 overs, Pakistan's victory was assured. Pushpakumara's hard-hit 44 from 45 balls down the order gave the total some respectability, but a second pair by Wickremasinghe put him among a small group with five ducks in a series (see table, page 1156).