Debutants Mohammad Aamer and Saeed Ajmal combined to wreck Sri Lanka’s batting and put Pakistan on the road to victory in the first cricket Test yesterday.
The pace-spin duo grabbed three wickets each as Sri Lanka were bowled out for 217 in their second innings on the third day, leaving Pakistan a modest victory target of 168 runs.
The tourists, who have never lost a Test series in Sri Lanka, ended the day at 71-2 and have two days to score the remaining 97 runs with eight wickets in hand for a 1-0 lead in the three-match series.
Sri Lanka removed Khurram Manzoor and skipper Younus Khan in the space of three runs to make Pakistan 39-2, but opener Salman Butt (28 not out) and veteran Mohammad Yousuf (12 not out) saw out the day.
Teenage left-arm fast bowler Aamer broke the back of Sri Lanka’s batting with three wickets for two runs, before off-spinner Ajmal polished off the tail in front of 5,000 stunned home fans here.
The 17-year-old Aamer followed his three wickets in the first innings with a hostile burst soon after lunch.
He had Tharanga Paranavitana, Mahela Jayawardene and skipper Kumar Sangakkara caught by wicket-keeper Kamran Akmal in the space of 16 deliveries on a lively wicket freshened up by early morning rain.
Pakistan coach Intikhab Alam said he was delighted at the performance of the three newcomers in the bowling attack.
“Aamer and Ajmal yes, but don’t forget another debutant, Abdur Rauf, who bowled so well in both innings,” said Alam, a former Pakistan captain and leg-spinner.
“I must congratulate these youngsters. They have performed exceedingly well. Both Aamer and Ajmal have sharp cricketing minds and read the situation very well,” Alam said.
Sri Lanka were reduced to 101-5 when Thilan Samaraweera (34) and Tillakaratne Dilshan (22) put on 37 for the sixth wicket.
Sri Lanka’s last three wickets added 61 valuable runs after the seventh wicket had fallen at 156 with the hosts just 106 runs ahead.