Pakistan have only two sessions to win the match and level the series with Sri Lanka © AFP
Sharjah: Jan 20, 2014
Pakistan were set a daunting target of 302 in 59 overs to win the third and final Test and level the series against Sri Lanka in Sharjah on Monday.
Sri Lanka were bowled out for 214 in their second innings, with left-arm spinner Abdul Rehman finishing with four for 56 and off-spinner Saeed Ajmal taking three for 53, but not before their batsmen had kept Pakistan at bay on the morning of the fifth and final day.
Prasanna Jayawardene made 49 and held on almost to the end, forcing a 15-minute delay in the lunch break.
Sri Lanka batted positively to add a quick 56 runs in the first hour with Angelo Mathews (31) and Prasanna negotiating the pace-cum spin attack without problems, raising hopes of a declaration after lunch.
But Mohammad Talha gave Pakistan their much needed breakthrough when he had Mathews caught off a miscued hook after he had added 62 for the sixth wicket with Prasanna.
Rehman then grabbed two quick wickets to put the brakes on Sri Lanka, having Dilruwan Perera caught at short-leg for eight before removing Rangana Herath for a first-ball duck.
Herath recorded a golden pair in the match as he was also dismissed first ball in the first innings.
Prasanna hit six boundaries in his 88-ball knock before he was dismissed by Ajmal, who also removed Shaminda Eranga to wrap up the innings.
Pakistan paid the price for dropping two crucial catches in the last hour on Sunday, with Mathews let off on 11 by Khurram Manzoor and Prasanna dropped by wicketkeeper Sarfraz Ahmed on nought.
Sri Lanka also carried an invaluable 87-run lead over from the first innings.
Pakistan will have to score at more than five an hour to level the series after losing the second Test in Dubai by nine wickets. The first Test in Abu Dhabi ended in a draw.
Sri Lanka 428 for 9 decl. (Kumar Sangakkara 52, Angelo Mathews 91, Dilruwan Perera 95; Junaid Khan 3 for 81, Mohammad Talha 3 for 99) and 214 (Mahela Jayawardene 46, Prasanna Jayawardene 49; Abdur Rehman 4 for 56, Saeed Ajmal 3 for 53, Mohammad Talha 3 for 65) lead Pakistan 341 (Ahmed Shehzad 147, Misbah-ul-Haq 63; Rangana Herath 5 for 125, Shaminda Eranga 4 for 60) by 301 runs.