Sri Lanka goes 1-0 up with comprehensive win

Pakistan all out for 359 after Lakmal’s 4 for 78; batsmen then achieve 137-run target for nine-wicket win.

Suranga Lakmal returned career-best figures of 4 for 78 before half-centuries from Dimuth Karunaratne and Kaushal Silva helped Sri Lanka beat Pakistan by nine wickets in Dubai to take a 1-0 lead in the three-match series on Sunday(January 12). Lakmal claimed all three wickets to fall on the fifth morning as Pakistan was bowled out for 359 in the second innings, setting Sri Lanka a target of 137 runs to win.

Karunaratne and Silva put on 124 for the opening wicket, and though Silva was dismissed for 58, trapped in front by Saeed Ajmal, Kumar Sangakarra (9 not out) accompanied Karunaratne to knock off the remaining runs and claim a crucial lead in the series, after the first Test ended in a draw in Abu Dhabi.

Chasing a tricky target, Sri Lanka openers were cautious and ensured the good work of its bowlers was not undone. Silva hit five fours in his knock of 58, while Karunaratne had eight fours during his 125-ball 62 as Sri Lanka chased the score down in 46.2 overs.

Earlier, having resumed the day at 330 for 7, Pakistan’s tail failed to put up much of a fight, as it lost three wickets for just 29 runs. Lakmal was at the heart of it all, bringing one in sharply to beat Sarfraz Ahmed’s forward defensive push in the fourth over of the day to clip his offstump. He departed for 142-ball 74, which brought an end to a fighting innings that helped Pakistan take the game to the final day.

Lakmal then had Rahat Ali caught behind for 8 as Prasanna Jayawardene completed his ninth catch to equal Sri Lanka’s record of the highest catches by a wicketkeeper in a match, a feat achieved twice in successive Tests by Amal Silva against India at home in 1985.

Lakmal then broke through Ajmal’s (21) defences to bring an end to Pakistan’s second innings. It was his fourth wicket of the innings, while Nuwan Pradeep, Shaminda Eranga and Rangana Herath had taken two apiece.

Pakistan will be desperate to level the series in the third Test starting in Sharjah on January 16 to avoid its first-ever series defeat in the United Arab Emirates, which has been its adopted home for cricket since 2010.

(Courtesy: International Cricket Council)