Sri Lanka's victory push against Pakistan in second Test held up by bad light

Day 4 ends early with home side needing nine wickets to seal win and level series

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Sri Lanka's hopes of winning the second Test against Pakistan took a hit when 26 overs were lost to bad light that brought Day 4 to an early close in Galle on Wednesday.

Pakistan reached 89-1 in their second innings at stumps after being set what would be a world-record run-chase of 508 – but only six overs were bowled after tea leaving the home side frustrated.

The visitors need another 419 runs to win, with the far more realistic prospect that Pakistan could bat out the final day to draw the game and secure a 1-0 series victory.

Dhananjaya de Silva, who hit 109 earlier in his team's second innings, said the hosts were wary that bad light could mean another shortened final session on Thursday.

"We need to get wickets early tomorrow," he said. "The key is to bowl at one point consistently."

Openers Abdullah Shafique and Imam-ul-Haq added 42 runs for the first wicket, seeing through the first hour of what looked like a long grind for Pakistan.

Shafique, who scored an unbeaten 160 in the first Test when Pakistan successfully chased down 342 runs to set a record at Galle, was dismissed for 16. He was spectacularly caught by debutant Dunith Wellalage, who ran in from mid-on.

Captain Babar Azam joined Imam and looked comfortable against spin as they added an unbroken 47 runs for the second wicket.

After the 28th over of the innings, the Pakistan batters successfully complained to the umpires that they were struggling to see the ball. Imam was unbeaten on 46 when play was called off and Babar 26 not out.

West Indies’ 418 against Australia in 2003 is currently the highest-ever successful fourth innings run chase, But the Sri Lankans were cautious about a declaration with a run-friendly surface and Pakistan having, in Babar, one of the best batters in the world.

Pakistan batting coach Mohammad Yousuf remained confident that his team could deliver, after going up to 443-7 in their chase of 506 to draw the second Test against Australia in March.

"Babar and Imam are playing to their strengths and I feel if they play in the same manner we will try to go for the target," said Yousuf.

Sri Lanka earlier declared their second innings on 360-8 after resuming on 176-5. The overnight pair of De Silva and Dimuth Karunaratne shared 126 runs for the sixth wicket to consolidate Sri Lanka’s position.

Karunaratne, who was pushed down to the middle order because of a back problem that restricted his fielding, posted his 31st Test half-century and in the process became the sixth Sri Lankan batter to score 6,000 career runs in red-ball cricket.

He was dismissed for 61 – when Abdullah Shafique pulled off a good reflex catch at short leg off Nauman Ali – before vice-captain De Silva went on to post his ninth Test hundred, after only one half century in 12 innings this year.

"Dimuth had a bit of a pain. He didn't show it. He absorbed it and played," said De Silva of his captain.

"What we wanted to do was to deny them wickets when they were bowling well. We knew if we batted for three sessions we would get to where we wanted to."

One of De Silva's 16 boundaries, an elegant cut shot against Mohammad Nawaz (2-75), brought up his hundred.

De Silva added 82 runs for the eighth wicket with Ramesh Mendis as Pakistan had to further toil on the field. Mendis was rarely troubled during his 54-ball 45 not out, which included five fours, giving an indication of the docile nature of the pitch.

Updated: July 28, 2022, 3:39 AM
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