KARACHI: Pakistan chased down a target of 302 runs in the last two sessions to clinch a thrilling five-wicket victory over Sri Lanka, and level the three-match series 1-1 to avoid an embarrassing series defeat.
It was an intriguing last day of the final Test in Sharjah that saw the visitors slumping from a good position to a loss, following heroics by middle-order batsman Azhar Ali.
Sri Lanka, despite a batting collapse on the day, managed to post a challenging target of 302 runs for the final two sessions for the hosts who needed to score over five runs per over.
Not many expected a successful run-chase but Pakistan made it happen with an aggressive display of batting.
Azhar who was struggling for runs found form at the right time and scored 103 runs to anchor the run-chase. He was involved in important partnerships with wicket-keeper Sarfraz Ahmed and his captain Misbahul Haq after Pakistan lost three wickets for 97 runs.
Sarfraz chipped in with an impressive 48 from 46 deliveries to help in an 80-run partnership for the fifth wicket.
Misbah who struck half-century in the first innings continued with his form and scored an unbeaten 67, including the winning shot. The skipper combined with Azhar to post vital 109 runs for the sixth wicket.
The win will also be a befitting sendoff for coach Dav Whatmore, whose contract is set to expire in February.
Starting the run-chase, Khurram Manzoor and Ahmed Shahzad made 35 for the opening wicket in 6.3 overs before the latter fell on 21. Manzoor was also dismissed on 21 while Younus Khan’s (29) dismissal reduced Pakistan to 97 for three.
Earlier needing just a draw to win series, Sri Lanka took the field on final day with a lead of 220 runs with a score of 133 for five. However, the tourists could add 81 more runs as they were bowled out for 214.
They started the day well with overnight duo captain Angelo Matthews and Prasanna Jayawardene making 62 runs for the sixth wicket partnership, taking overall lead to 276.
However, Matthews dismissal off fast bowler Mohammad Talha sparked a collapse that saw the visitors losing their last six wickets for just 25 runs.
Abdur Rehman (4-56), Saeed Ajmal (3-53) and Talha (3-65) were the wicket-takers.