Dinner Pakistan 262 and 62 for 5 (Sarfraz 7*, Shafiq 4*) need 255 to beat Sri Lanka 482 and 96 (Mendis 29, Wahab 4-41, Sohail 3-1)
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Azhar Ali and Shan Masood batted for 20.2 overs together. They toiled, they laboured, they scratched around, scoring at less than 2 runs an over. But eventually, their passive resistance ended, and Sri Lanka scythed through the middle order. Collapses had defined day three. They become the major feature of the fourth day as well.
Having lost four wickets for 16 runs towards the end of the twilight session, Pakistan were five wickets down, requiring an improbable 255 to win. With the spinners wheeling themselves into a rhythm, Sri Lanka left the field smelling a completely unexpected series sweep. Dilruwan Perera was the man leading the victory push. He came into the attack late but took three quickfire wickets, removing Haris Sohail, Masood and Babar Azam within the space of 10 deliveries. Nuwan Pradeep had earlier dismissed Azhar – his first breakthrough of the match. Captain Dinesh Chandimal left the field content, having manoeuvred his bowlers and fielders successfully in that session, as well as generally through this match.
Dilruwan’s victims were all caught close to the wicket. Sohail and Masood – both left-handers with the ball was spinning away – followed the turning ball, and sent thin edges through to the wicketkeeper. Not only has Niroshan Dickwella caught well in this match, he has also been a constant irritant to the opposition from behind the wicket, even taking to sledging the batsmen in Urdu, at one stage. The third wicket – that of Babar for a two-ball duck- went low, to Kaushal Silva at leg slip.
The late flurry of wickets brought into question the tactics used by Masood and Azhar earlier in the session. Perhaps they attempted to stonewall because Sri Lanka’s bowlers had not had much rest between innings, and they felt they could wear them out. Maybe the pitch had become more treacherous than it appeared to those watching on. Whatever the case, neither batsman made any great effort to break out. Masood was clearly the less accomplished, playing and missing often, and hitting only one four in his 101-ball stay. Azhar’s strike rate was a little better – he hit 17 off 54. But on a pitch now offering rewards to bowlers, perhaps he should not have let the opposition attack settle. Eventually, a length ball from Pradeep took his inside edge, and ballooned off his pad to a leg side fielder, who was at a position between traditional short leg, and square leg – perhaps a Chandimal innovation.
Pakistan’s collapse followed Sri Lanka’s own capitulation in the morning, when having begun at 35 for 5, they were dismissed for 96. It was the inscrutable Wahab Riaz who had been the primary architect of Sri Lanka’s slide late on day three, and Wahab again who recommenced the wicket-taking on the fourth day, having Dickwella brilliantly caught by Sarfraz Ahmed. Rangana Herath and Kusal Mendis mounted a 35-run partnership – the best of the innings. But although they hit Yasir Shah out of the attack, part-time spinner Sohail came on and claimed the remaining Sri Lanka wickets inside six balls – the first time in Test history a bowler has taken three wickets in his only over of the innings.