The home side bowled out the tourists cheaply in the second innings after achieving first-innings parity but fell short once again on Day 5 of a Test match as Rangana Herath ended the match with an 11-wicket haul.
By Abdullah Ansari (2nd October, 2017)
Pakistan were (not for the first time), undone by a Herath master-class in the fourth-innings of a Test match as the unfancied Sri Lankan side sealed a stunning 21-run win. Pakistan were set 136 to win and began tentatively, scoring at a sedate pace. The weaknesses of this strategy soon became apparent as Sami edged on to slip followed by Azhar getting a peach of a delivery from Lakmal as he was caught behind. The defensive strategy from the batsmen continued and Masood was next to fall as he was dismissed by Perera. Babar followed suit a few overs later and Shafiq's fight was brought to an end as well as he edged behind off Herath. Haris and Sarfaraz looked to form a partnership and took Pakistan through to Tea but the captain fell to an atrocious shot right after the break. Haris, the top-scorer with 34 was eventually undone by a sharply turning delivery from Perera; after that, it was a procession as Herath wrapped up the tail, getting to 400 Test wickets including 100 against Pakistan.
Earlier in the match, Sri Lanka won the toss and opted to bat as Pakistan went with a three-pacer strategy. Despite some early breakthroughs from Yasir, the visitors built up the innings nicely through Karunaratne who made 93. Later on, it was an attacking innings of 83 from Dickwella that did the damage but the outstanding knock of the match was played by the Sri Lankan captain Dinesh Chandimal who batted throughout the first-innings after coming to the crease, finishing unbeaten on 155. The total was 419 with three wickets apiece for Yasir and Abbas and two for Hasan.
Pakistan replied strongly but at a very slow pace with the openers putting on a hundred partnership with both hitting fifties. Azhar at #3 went on to make 85 while Shafiq and Babar got starts but couldn't carry on. At one point, Pakistan looked to be in danger of conceding a big lead in the midst of the innings but Haris batted superbly with the tail, scoring a maiden fifty and finishing with 76* as the hosts achieved first-innings parity. Herath took five wickets in the first-innings as well.
Sri Lanka's second innings saw Pakistan make regular breakthroughs with the part-timers Haris and Shafiq getting into the act as well, dismissing Silva and Thirimanne. Yasir also picked up crucial wickets while Abbas' probing bowling saw him dismiss Mendis and nightwatchman Lakmal. The only resistance came from Dickwella who stayed unbeaten with 40 as Yasir picked up five wickets, cleaning up the tail with the final innings total standing at 138. Pakistan would have been well pleased at this point, chasing a seemingly low target of 136 but it was not to be - the day belonged to Rangana Herath.
Pakistan XI: Shan Masood, Sami Aslam, Azhar Ali, Asad Shafiq, Babar Azam, Haris Sohail, Sarfraz Ahmed (c/wk), Mohammad Amir, Yasir Shah, Mohammad Abbas, Hasan Ali
Sri Lanka XI: Kaushal Silva, Dimuth Karunaratne, Kusal Mendis, Dinesh Chandimal (c), Lahiru Thirimanne, Niroshan Dickwella (wk), Dilruwan Perera, Rangana Herath, Suranga Lakmal, Lakshan Sandakan, Nuwan Pradeep