Mathews, Prasanna keep Pakistan at bay

Angelo Mathews and Prasanna Jayawardena put up a spirited fight against Pakistan’s spinners led by Saeed Ajmal to reach 220 for 5 at close on day one of the third Test in Sharjah on Thursday (January 16).

Sri Lanka was left reeling at 166 for 5 after Ajmal struck twice, returning figures of 2 for 62. Mathews, the Sri Lanka captain, remained unbeaten on 24 and was well supported by Prasanna Jayawardena (28). The duo saw off the day with an unbeaten 54-run stand on a spin-friendly Sharjah pitch.

Pakistan could have been in a better position had Mohammad Talha, the right-arm pacer, held on to a difficult catch off his own bowling to dismiss Mathews, when he was yet to open his account. A leg-before decision against Prasanna then was turned down on referral.

Sri Lanka was on 206 for 5 when Pakistan decided to take the second new ball, but Mathews along with Prasanna batted with precaution and avoided any further hiccups.

Pakistan had earlier managed to pick up the key wicket of Kumar Sangakkara (52), when he slapped one straight to Junaid Khan at mid-wicket, just two balls after completing his half-century.

Sangakkara, batting on 14, survived a confident appeal which was turned down by the umpire, after he gloved a sweep shot off Abdul Rehman to Younus Khan at slip. Pakistan chose not to challenge the decision though TV replays showed the ball hitting glove.

Mahela Jayawardena (47) was dismissed soon after tea when he edged Ajmal to Azhar Ali at short leg. Jayawardena, who hit 129 in Sri Lanka’s nine-wicket win in the second Test in Dubai, hit two sixes and five boundaries in his 108-ball knock.

Dinesh Chandimal (11) fell cheaply, attempting a drive off Ajmal only to be caught by Asad Shafiq at mid-on.

Talha got Pakistan off to a good start in the morning session when he dismissed Kusal Silva for 17 in his second spell, leaving Sri Lanka at 31 for 1. Dimuth Karunaratne hit two boundaries and a six before he edged Rehman in the first over after lunch and was caught by Younus in the slips after scoring 34.

Pakistan brought in Rehman, Talha and Azhar Ali in place of Rahat Ali, Mohammad Hafeez and the injured Bilawal Bhatti. Sri Lanka gave a Test cap to Dilruwan Perera in place of Nuwan Pradeep.

Sri Lanka lead the three-match series 1-0 after it won the second match by nine wickets in Dubai.

(Courtesy: International Cricket Council)