If Sri Lanka dismiss Misbah-ul-Haq early on the fourth day, they could go on to win the Sharjah Test, their bowling coach Champaka Ramanayake has said. He also picked medium-pacer Chanaka Welegedara as the key bowler for Sri Lanka on the fourth day.
"Misbah is a very good player and if we can get him early, we will have a chance," Ramanayake said. "The last session of the day was better for us compared to the earlier two sessions. We bowled very accurately in the earlier sessions, though we did not get many wickets.
"We built up the pressure and in the end it was nice to get some quick wickets. Tomorrow, we have to get Pakistan out as quickly as possible."
Pakistan finished day three on 282 for 6, still trailing Sri Lanka by 131 runs. At one stage Pakistan were 233 for 3, with centurion Younis Khan and Misbah at the crease, but Sri Lanka picked up three wickets for 44 runs to edge ahead. Misbah, after a typically dogged innings, went to stumps unbeaten on 50, and is Pakistan's last recognised batsmen.
Welegedara had accounted for Younis with his first delivery with the second new ball: he got the ball to bend in sharply, beat Younis and hit off. He also had Asad Shafiq feathering an edge behind on 16 late in the day.
"He [Welegedara] bowled brilliantly, giving 60 odd runs in his 25 overs on a flat wicket," Ramanayake said. "He has done a great job for us and probably he will pick five wickets tomorrow [he has taken three so far]. The way he bowled he deserves five wickets."
Sri Lanka were without their other new-ball bowler Dhammika Prasad - who had strained his thigh muscle on Friday after just four overs - and he isn't expected to be fit enough to bowl on Sunday. "He [Prasad] will be out of action for a while due to a thigh injury," Ramanayake said. "It's a flat wicket and so it is a tough task [being a bowler short]."
Mohsin Khan, Pakistan's interim coach, said Misbah had adopted the right approach in this innings, batting with caution. "It is a pity that we lost two wickets in the last 45 minutes," he said. "Like Misbah, who is showing full responsibility, Test cricket is all about patience. He is taking the safety route first, and then we will go for a positive result."
Mohsin also praised Younis, saying he had demonstrated once again how important he is to the side. "Younis batted wonderfully well. He is proving himself to be a reliable senior player and today again he has done a great job for Pakistan.
"I wish I had seen him not out at the end of the day, that would have been very good. Not to take anything away from him, though, as he has batted very well for the team."