At Dubai, January 8-12, 2014. Sri Lanka won by nine wickets. Toss: Sri Lanka.
Pakistan paid a heavy price for their inept batting on the opening day. With the match bookended by unsettled weather in the Gulf, they were taken aback by an unusually grassy and responsive surface, and could not adapt their leaden-footed strokeplay. The upshot was their second Test defeat of the winter at Dubai, and the feeling that their dominion in this part of the world was loosening a little. It was a landmark win for Sri Lanka - just their second victory overseas in 19 attempts.
Mathews' decision to bowl was unprecedented at this venue, but not a complete surprise given Pakistan's collapses for 99 in their previous two Tests here, against England and South Africa. Those were two countries with serious fast-bowling pedigree; Mathews cannot have expected his own trio of seamers, all in their mid-twenties and with intermittent Test careers, to have proved so potent. But Lakmal and Eranga kept it tight, and the recalled Nuwan Pradeep conjured up the odd beauty, making the ball move late to bemuse Ahmed Shehzad and Mohammad Hafeez. Khurram Manzoor was a shining exception, but Herath - summoned unusually late in the piece - mopped up the tail. Pakistan lost their last eight wickets for 58, and a total of 165 compelled their bowlers to chase the game.
When Mahela Jayawardene walked out to bat at 88 for three, one position lower than usual following a miserable First Test, Sri Lanka had yet to exert their will. That soon changed. Jayawardene, his right hand strapped after he split the webbing while dropping a catch on the first day, battled his way back to form. He again edged his first ball from Bilawal Bhatti, but this time it skimmed the turf and ran away for four. The seam movement that unsettled Pakistan's batsmen on the first day was nowhere to be seen, and Jayawardene and Silva were able to carry Sri Lanka into the lead without much fuss.
Silva fell five short of a maiden hundred, before Mathews was put down on five by Sarfraz Ahmed (replacing the injured Adnan Akmal), who stuck out his right glove when he should have gone with both hands; the pair put on a further 80 before Mathews edged Rahat Ali again, and Sarfraz clung on. Jayawardene, after a wait of 18 innings stretching back to April 2012 against England in Colombo, reached his 32nd Test hundred with successive late cuts off Bhatti, and moved ahead of Steve Waugh into eighth in the alltime run-scorers list.
Pakistan, responding to a deficit of 223, were as good as buried when they careered to 19 for three. Misbah-ul-Haq joined Younis Khan with another rescue mission to carry out and, helped by a ball change in the 13th over that seemed to reduce the swing, they set about dulling Sri Lanka's edge. Misbah lost Younis to a frustrated cut on 77, then reviewed his own dismissal on 78 (Pakistan's only successful use of DRS in the series). Misbah had just taken Pakistan into the lead, and was within three runs of hundreds in back-to-back Tests, when Herath turned one past his forward prod to hit off stump. Sarfraz, with his first international fifty, fought hard to a premature close, when heavy rain swept through the desert. With no part-time bowlers in a side stocked with wicketkeepers, Sangakkara even turned his arm over, for only the fourth time in his long Test career.
Rain continued to fall during the night, but the floodlights ensured play began on time on the final morning. Sarfraz could add only four to his overnight score, and Pakistan were dismissed 75 minutes into the day. Strikingly, it was Lakmal and Eranga who did the mopping up; only six times before had as many as 15 wickets gone down to Sri Lankan seamers in a Test. Silva chipped in with his second fifty of the match to help guide Sri Lanka to their small target of 137, and an unexpected series lead.
Man of the Match: D. P. M. D. Jayawardene.