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Sri Lanka set 153 to win after patient Azhar ton

Regular strikes from Prasad and Chameera on fourth day help Sri Lanka restrict Misbah's side to 329 before rain washes out last session

Sri Lanka set 153 to win after patient Azhar ton - Cricket News
Dhammika Prasad was the chief protagonist, returning 4 for 92 as Sri Lanka bowled Pakistan out for 329, needing 153 for a win.
A patient century by Azhar Ali kept up Pakistan's fight but Sri Lanka's pacers struck at regular intervals on the fourth day to restrict the lead to 152 in the second Test in Colombo.

Pakistan was bowled out for 329 on Sunday (June 28), with Dhammika Prasad (4 for 92) being the protagonist for Sri Lanka. He was ably supported by Dushmant Chameera, the debutant, who ended with 3 for 53. Sri Lanka was set a modest target of 153 to square the three-match series before rain washed out the final session.

A number of Pakistani batsmen got starts but it was only Azhar (117 off 308 balls) who converted it into something substantial. The right-handed batsman, put down by Kumar Sangakkara off Prasad on 68, took his time but played sheet anchor's role to slowly build Pakistan's lead even as wickets tumbled at the other end.

Pakistan resumed at 171 for 2 and its day started with Prasad and Angelo Mathews troubling Azhar and Younis Khan with exceptional swing bowling. Younis made it to a 67-ball 40 before Mathews induced an edge to the wicketkeeper with an awayswinger to end the 73-run partnership.  

Misbah-ul-Haq got his eye in, but Prasad ended his stay on 22 with a sharp inswinger, trapping him lbw in the third over with the second new ball, a little before lunch. 

The game was still in the balance at lunch, Pakistan having a slender lead of 67 with six wickets in hand, but Sri Lanka grabbed the momentum immediately after the break with some quick strikes. The home side came with a definite plan to attack the batsmen with a barrage of short-pitched balls and the ploy worked when Asad Shafiq nicked a short ball from Chameera down leg side to the wicketkeeper.

Sarfraz Ahmed, the wicketkeeper-batsman, got off to a busy start, but his innings was cut short when he chased a harmless delivery outside off only to be caught behind the wicket, giving Prasad his third wicket. Prasad struck again in his next over, getting through the defence of Yasir Shah with a brute of an inswinging yorker.

Amid all this, Azhar had crawled to his ninth Test century – one that took as many as 266 balls. He reviewed and survived a close lbw shout off Prasad in the 113th over, but perished in the very next, jumping out of his crease only to be stumped off Rangana Herath's bowling. 

With just two wickets remaining, the session was extended by 30 minutes. After Junaid Khan fell to Chameera, Wahab Riaz, who fractured his knuckle while batting on the first day, put on a brave face and walked out to bat despite the pain. Chameera, the bowler whose delivery injured Wahab, put him out of his misery with a sharp inswinger that trapped him lbw for six.

On the third day, a 120-run stand for the second wicket between Ahmed Shehzad (69) and Azhar had helped Pakistan bounce back after Yasir Shah's six-wicket haul helped bowl Sri Lanka out for 315.

To view the full scorecard, please click here

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