A total of 11 wickets fell on day two of the final Test between Pakistan and Sri Lanka as the visitors were in trouble at 204-9 at stumps — still 69 runs behind — courtesy of some impressive bowling from the Islanders.
Pakistan managed to dismiss the remaining two Sri Lankan batsmen early on day two but struggled with the bat themselves, with only vice-captain Azhar Ali and wicketkeeper-batsman Sarfraz Ahmed impressing with half-centuries.
Sarfraz was unbeaten on 72 off 94 balls at stumps on the rain-interrupted day, with Imran Khan unbeaten on naught at the other end.
In the absence of Muhammad Hafeez, the new opening pair of Ahmed Shehzad and Shaan Masood — who both open domestically for HBL — weathered the storm early on but it was not meant to be a long association.
The hero of the second Test, Dhammika Prasad, was at it once again and trapped Shaan in front of the stumps on 13 with a well-directed yorker to bring an end to the 32-run stand.
Just 16 balls later, Shehzad was back in the hut after falling victim to Nuwan Pradeep on a 29-ball 21.
The in-form Azhar Ali was joined by veteran Younus Khan, who has struggled on the tour despite closing in on Javed Miandad’s record of Pakistan’s most prolific Test batsman.
However, a smart piece of fielding by Kaushal Silva found Younus short of his ground with a direct-hit to leave Paksitan struggling at 45-5.
Asad Shafiq was promoted up the order with skipper Misbahul Haq struggling with an injury.
Shafiq put on 46 with Azhar but Prasad’s niggling line and seam movement eventually got the better of him for 15.
Sarfraz joined Azhar and the duo looked solid as they added 44 but Azhar was dismissed soon after making his fifty as he chased a wide Pradeep ball away from his body without much feet movement.
The wicketkeeper-batsman continued to score freely, at one point going at better than run-a-ball.
However, he quickly started to run out of partners as first the injured Misbah and then Ehsan Adil fell in quick succession to leave Pakistan 152-7.
Spinner Yasir Shah, who had claimed his third five-wicket haul of the series earlier in the day by dismissing Pradeep, then pitched in with a handy 18 with the bat as well, with Sarfraz and Yasir adding 43 for the eighth wicket.
Rahat was unable to provide support to Sarfraz and was soon dismissed.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 5th, 2015.
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