Brilliance from Younis and Masood take Pakistan closer to series win
Pakistan 215 & 230-2 (Masood 114 no)
Sri Lanka 278 & 313 (Mathews 122)
Third Test, Pallekele, day four
Shan Masood and Younis Khan hit unbeaten tons to put up the biggest fourth innings partnership in Tests for Pakistan of an unbeaten 217 to take their team from a tough position to a fighting distance from a memorable win chasing 377, at stumps on day four of the final Test against Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka resumed the day on 228 for five from the 70th over. Pakistan started with Yasir Shah (2-80) and Imran Khan (5-58).
Soon Sri Lanka moved to a lead of 300 in the 77th over. Dinesh Chandimal (67) reached his half-century in 79 balls with a single.
Pakistan took the new ball as soon as it was available when Sri Lanka reached 250 for five after 80 overs.
Angelo Mathews (122) was lucky couple of times, with an edge falling short and a run-out chance missed. But, when he was on 99, trouble struck the other end.
Imran knocked out two in two balls. First he got Chandimal trapped lbw ending a 117-run partnership. Dhammika Prasad (0) nicked one to the wicket-keeper the very next ball.
Mathews brought up his fifth Test century the next over. However, Sri Lanka collapsed from 278 for five to 313 all out as Imran cleaned up the lower order in an inspired spell of new ball bowling to register his first five wicket haul in Tests.
He managed those five wickets in just six overs as Sri Lanka were all out for 313, with Pakistan set a fourth innings target of 377.
Pakistan had a terrible start to their chase of their biggest fourth innings target. Suranga Lakmal (1-34) castled the stumps of Ahmed Shehzad (0) in the second over.
Prasad (1-42) got Azhar Ali (5) to edge one to the wicket-keeper down the leg-side as Pakistan were reduced to 13 for two after seven overs.
But, then started a massive and splendid effort from Pakistan’s old warhorse, Younis Khan (101 not out) and their young opener, Shan Masood (114 not out).
Both looked fluent after a slightly testing start, playing aggressive cricket and scoring at a very good pace at every available opportunity.
Pakistan managed only 31 for two after 15 overs, in the face of some good fast bowling from Nuwan Pradeep (0-32) and Prasad.
However, Tharindu Kaushal (0-92) was wayward and Younis struck him for two consecutive fours in the 18th over to get going. Masood smacked two gorgeous fours himself the next over from Kaushal who was bowling loose full tosses and half-volleys at that point.
Pakistan went into tea at 99 for two in 29 overs having scored 68 in the last 14 overs with Masood being the first to reach his half-century in 93 balls with eight fours.
Pakistan played out the entire post-tea session brilliantly without losing a single wicket scoring 131 runs in just 34 overs.
Younis went to his half-century in fine style, cracking successive fours off Prasad soon after tea.
Masood was lucky to survive an extremely close lbw shout off Mathews’ (0-15) bowling. Turned down by the on-field umpire, Mathews referred it to DRS. It looked out but in the absence of conclusive evidence to overturn the onfield call on whether there was an inside edge, Masood survived.
He was on 79 at that point and Pakistan were 163 for two after 45 overs. The pitch was placid and Sri Lanka looked lacklustre towards the end of the day.
Masood brought up his maiden Test century with an audacious six charging down the ground to Kaushal, also taking Pakistan over 200 in the 56th over.
Younis reached his century in the penultimate ball of the day becoming the first Test batsmen ever to score five centuries in the fourth innings.
Pakistan ended the day on 230 for two off 63 overs, requiring another 147 runs with eight wickets in hand.
Day five is finely set up but Pakistan will fancy their chances to achieve the sixth biggest successful fourth innings chase in Test cricket.
© Cricket World 2015