Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews continued his resistance-packed knock to take his team to 355-5 at tea on the fourth day of their first Test against Pakistan in Abu Dhabi yesterday.
Mathews was 87 not out as he approached his second Test hundred and in the company of Dinesh Chandimal (89) added an invaluable 138-run partnership for the fifth wicket to leave Pakistan’s bowlers frustrated in the first session.
At tea the other unbeaten batsman was Prasanna Jayawardene with 14 as Sri Lanka, who trailed by 179 runs in the first innings, now lead by 176 runs with five wickets intact.
Sri Lanka lost only one wicket in the two sessions for an addition of 169 runs.
Mathews has so far hit nine boundaries and a six off a 211-ball knock.
However, both Mathews and Chandimal were not bothered at all and even the second new ball, taken at 249-4, failed to benefit Pakistan with a wicket as Sri Lanka reached 285-4 at lunch, adding 99 to their overnight score of 186-4.
Chandimal glanced off-spinner Saeed Ajmal for his seventh boundary to reach his fifth Test half-century off 79 balls.
Mathews was more aggressive, hitting Ajmal for a six early in the day and then took a single off the same bowler to reach his 12th 50 — and second in the match, following his 91 in Sri Lanka’s first innings of 204.
Pakistan had made 383 in their first innings to gain a 179-run lead.
Ajmal, who took 18 wickets in Pakistan’s 1-0 win over Sri Lanka in the United Arab Emirates in 2011, failed to pose any danger for the batsmen as he was wicketless till now.
Pakistan had one chance to dismiss Chandimal in the second over after lunch, when an edge off Bilawal Bhatti flew close to Ahmed Shehzad’s outstretched hands in the second slip when the batsman was on 71.
Finally, Junaid broke the stand at 324 when he had Chandmial caught at deep fine-leg off a miscued hook. Chandimal batted for 251 minutes and hit a dozen boundaries.
Pakistan started the day on a wrong note when wicketkeeper Adnan Akmal was ruled out of the three-Test series with a fractured finger and Younis Khan had to replace him.
Sarfraz Ahmed has been summoned as Akmal’s replacement for the next two Tests — in Dubai, from Wednesday next week, and Sharjah, from Jan. 16.