Sri Lanka got one step closer to giving former captain Mahela Jayawardene a winning farewell after Rangana Herath skittled Pakistan once more in the second Test in Colombo on Sunday.
Pakistan, set a series-levelling target of 271 runs, slumped to 50-5 before plodding to 127-7 by stumps on the fourth day at the Sinhalese Sports Club.
Left-arm spinner Herath, who claimed nine wickets in the first innings, grabbed 4-46 to destroy Pakistan’s fragile batting once again in front of some 5,000 screaming home fans.
Herath, who came on to bowl the ninth over after seamer Dhammika Prasad had dismissed openers Khurram Manzoor and Ahmed Shehzad, struck his first blow with his eighth delivery.
Jayawardene, who ends his 17-year Test career after this match, held two smart catches in the slips off Herath to get rid of Azhar Ali and skipper Misbahul Haq.
Herath then won a leg-before decision against Younus Khan to make it 50-5 in the 19th over, before Asad Shafiq and Sarfraz Ahmed stemmed the rot by batting an hour for their 55-run stand.
Shafiq was stumped off Herath for 32 and Abdur Rehman was leg-before to Dilruwan Perera, but Sarfraz remained unbeaten on a defiant 38.
Pakistan, who need 144 runs more to record an improbable win, chose not to speak to the media after play.
Sri Lankan veteran Kumar Sangakkara said he was surprised that Pakistan lost seven wickets in one session after tea despite the difficult pitch that helped the bowlers.
“We did not expect Pakistan to collapse,” he said. “But it’s a challenge to bat on this wicket. It is two-paced, has inconsistent bounce and there is also a bit of turn.
“Dhammika gave us the early breaks and then the magical Herath was back. He has been incredible for us over the past few years.”
The hosts were bowled out for 282 in their second innings just before tea, with seamer Wahab Riaz and off-spinner Saeed Ajmal claiming three wickets each.
Pakistan missed left-arm seamer Junaid Khan, who did not bowl in Sri Lanka’s second innings after being hit on the helmet by a rising ball from Prasad on Saturday. He was kept under observation at a hospital for a few hours.
Team manager Moin Khan said Junaid may bat if needed.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 18th, 2014.
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