Sri Lanka spinners beat Pakistan and rain to level Test series in Galle

Jayasuriya picks up another five-wicket haul to complete 246-run victory on Thursday

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Sri Lanka spinners made up for their shortcomings in the first Test as they crushed Pakistan by 246 runs in the second Test in Galle to level the series 1-1.

Chasing a mammoth 508 for victory, the tourists were bowled out for 261 in the second session on day five with spinner Prabath Jayasuriya grabbing another five-wicket haul.

Pakistan captain Babar Azam hit a valiant 81 but his team could not replicate the heroics of the first match when they chased down a record 342.

Left-arm spinner Jayasuriya, 30, claimed his fourth five-wicket haul in just his third Test since his debut against Australia earlier this month. Fellow spinner Ramesh Mendis took four scalps.

However, there were some concerns in the home camp with rain forecast on Thursday. Resuming play at 89-1, Pakistan lost opening batsman Imam-ul-Haq in the third over of the morning but a 79-run stand between captain Azam and Mohammad Rizwan raised hopes of a draw.

However, a moment of indiscretion saw Rizwan leaving a straight ball from Jayasuriya (5-117) and he was bowled for 37. A collapse from the visitors’ middle order soon followed as they went from 176-2 to 188-5 by lunch.

Azam was Sri Lanka’s biggest challenge, and Pakistan’s only remaining hope, but he was dismissed leg before wicket by a straight ball from Jayasuriya, ending their resistance. The last five Pakistan wickets then fell for 56 runs.

"When Babar was dismissed we knew that we could pull this off. Babar is their anchor," Jayasuriya, who has 29 wickets in three Tests, said.

"That was crucial and once he was out we knew we could pull it off."

Azam survived Jayasuriya's lbw call, which was given out by the umpire but successfully reviewed by the batsman, before the bowler claimed him for the third time this series. The star batsman, who began the day on 26 and needed some physio help for lower back discomfort, had been in top form with the bat and scored 119 and 55 in Pakistan's opening win.

Jayasuriya is now the toast of Sri Lanka but he said he had initially struggled to find his footing after rising to first-class cricket from his rural home town in Matale district, Central Province.

"It's been a tough journey," he said. "I had to do everything on my own. You are all alone and finally you feel the pinch.

"I didn't tell too many things to [people back] home. Just kept it to myself and put my head down and played."

The islanders ended their innings on Wednesday afternoon with a massive lead but weather was of concern to the hosts, with play ending early on day three and four due to bad light and rain predicted for Thursday afternoon.

Dhananjaya de Silva, who stood in as Sri Lanka captain with back pain keeping Dimuth Karunaratne off the field, set up victory with his 109 in Sri Lanka's 360-8 declared in the second innings. Pakistan had earlier fallen behind Sri Lanka by 147 runs after being bowled out for 231 in response to the hosts' first-innings 378.

“There was pressure when wickets fell in a bunch for our batters and credit goes to Jayasuriya for the way he bowled. It was an outstanding effort,” Azam said. “He bowled with patience and that’s what you need in Test matches.”

Victory was particularly significant for Sri Lanka as the series was played against the backdrop of the country's worst economic crisis since independence. There is a severe shortage of fuel, medicine and cooking gas and experts have warned of a pending food crisis.

Updated: July 28, 2022, 12:36 PM