PALLEKELE: Pakistan veteran Younus Khan scored an unbeaten 171 to lead the team to its highest-ever run chase in Pallekele as they beat Sri Lanka by seven wickets in the decider to grab the three-match series 2-1 .
Pakistan, who won a series after nine years in the Island, shattered many records on their way to this victory as they chased the second highest total in the sub-continent and the highest in Sri Lanka.
With the win, Pakistan improved their Test ranking and jumped up to the third place.
Meanwhile, Younus posted his 30th Test century, becoming the first batsman in Test history to notch five centuries in the fourth innings of a Test. Younus playing his 101st Test reached the century landmark shortly before close of the fourth day’s play.
Masood is the sixth Pakistan opener to score a century in the fourth innings of a Test — considered by cricketing pundits as the toughest innings of a Test.
Earlier, Dimuth Karunaratne led Sri Lanka in the first innings to a total of 278 courtesy his 130-run knock.
Pakistan were not able to reply efficiently and were all out for 215 courtesy Sarfraz Ahmed’s fighting 78 down the order.
Sri Lanka were bolstered by captain Angelo Mathews’ 122 in their second innings and set 377-run target for the visitors.
After losing two quick wickets, Pakistan looked down and out but they were held firmly by Younus and Masood on day four and Misbah was there by the veteran’s side to win the game.
Misbahul Haq, Pakistan captain: It is such a big victory. Younis said that the pitch was not doing much for the bowlers. Shan Masood, the way he played, took the game away from Sri Lanka. After the Younis-Masood partnership, it was easy for us. The youngsters are doing well for the team. When seamers did not get wickets in the first innings, Yasir bowled tight lines and showed his variations. Then Imran came in on the fourth day and took five wickets. The key factor in the game was to keep calm. We have lost a couple of Tests in Sri Lanka last time when he panicked. We just wanted to bat calmly this time. This series means a lot to me after losing two or three series’ in Sri Lanka. Sarfraz in the first innings is the main architect of this win. Asad Shafiq was brilliant in the first Test. After playing so well against Zimbabwe at home, we have a lot of confidence in the ODIs. Sri Lanka are tough competitors at home but we can win the ODIs.
Yasir Shah, Man of the Series: I am playing my 10th game, I do not feel much pressure. People say I smile a lot, that is my natural way. I have worked a lot on my action with Mushy bhai, worked on my googly and made my action repeatable. My target was to take 20 wickets. I bowl according to the wicket. In the second innings, I went around the wicket to make full use of the track.
Younis Khan, Man of the Match: It is not that I train much, but I am involved in everything. I always want to stand up for the team. I play according to the situation. Yesterday when we were fielding, we knew we could chase 400. Credit to Shan Masood, he was amazing. This is a very good bunch of players. Misbah and I keep them calm, they play well under pressure. Yasir Shah has been impressive throughout the series. Imran bowled really well.
Angelo Mathews, Sri Lanka captain: It was disappointing. I though we were sitting pretty when he had 377. This was a really good game after both sides were even. The Pakistan bowlers were brilliant in the second innings. Pakistan deserved to win and they played better cricket than us. It turned a little bit but the seamers did not have anything in the last couple of days. We don’t have Mahela and Sanga, we will have to take on the challenge and move on. I am trying to contribute both with the bat and ball. The one-day team will be a fresh team. It has been a great Test series for both teams.
Sri Lanka 278, 313
Pakistan 215, 382-3