Pakistan vs Sri Lanka, 2nd Test: Wahab Hits Back After Pakistan Concedes Big Lead

A fiery spell from Wahab Riaz brought the day-night second Test to life as Sri Lanka collapsed to 34 for 5 at stumps on day three on Sunday (October 8). But the visitor already has enough of an overall lead to try and force a series win, after having opened up a 220-run advantage on the first innings. Wahab finished with 3 for 10 but much will depend on Pakistan's faltering batsmen if it is to come up with a series-levelling victory. Sri Lanka is already ahead by 254 runs with five wickets intact, and another 50 runs or so will make Pakistan's task even tougher.

Pakistan's suspect batting once again came to haunt it as, on a flat track, it was bowled out for just 262, a stark contrast to the Sri Lankan batsmen who piled up 482 in their first innings. Despite Pakistan falling 21 short of the follow-on mark, Sri Lanka batted again to avoid any last-day hiccups. However, it was in for a rude jolt in the final session as a fired-up Pakistan, even without the injured Mohammad Amir, ripped through the line-up. Wahab got rid of Dimuth Karunaratne (7), Sadeera Samarawickrama (13) and Dinesh Chandimal (0) while Mohammad Abbas and Yasir Shah picked up a wicket each as Pakistan vented its batting frustrations on its opponent.

If Pakistan loses the Test, it will be its first home series loss -- or when it has hosted a series -- since the 1-0 defeat to South Africa in 2007. That Pakistan found itself so far behind after the first innings was entirely due to the negative mindset of the batsmen. Maybe it had not overcome the loss in the first Test, when Rangana Herath bamboozled it with 11 wickets, or maybe it is still struggling to come to grips with the void created recently by the retirements of Younis Khan and Misbah-ul-Haq.

Only Azhar Ali with 59 and Haris Sohail with 56 looked in any sort of control during their 71-run fifth-wicket stand. Once Azhar was trapped leg-before by Herath, Pakistan lost its last six wickets for 82 runs. Herath, the left-arm spinner, finished with 3 for 84, taking his tally so far to 14 wickets in the series, while Dilruwan Perera, the off-spinner, had figures of 3 for 72.

Suranga Lakmal (2-41) and Lahiru Gamage (2-38), the pacers, too bowled with purpose, attacking the channel and procuring some reverse swing. It was debutant Gamage who provided the breakthrough by bowling Shan Masood (16) through the gate. Sami Aslam batted well for his 39 but went back instead of going forward and was trapped leg before by Perera as Pakistan slumped to 65 for 2 after having started the day on 51 without loss. Asad Shafiq was once again timid at the crease and his short 12-run knock was ended by a hesitant forward push to Lakmal which safely landed in the slip cordon. Babar Azam once again showed his frailty against spin, pushing tentatively to Herath to give a simple catch to mid-wicket.

It was left to Sohail and Azhar to stop the slide, and they did so while adding 71. Once again, Azhar wasted a good chance of making a big score as he was trapped right in front by a straighter one from Herath. His 128-ball stay had five boundaries. Sohail was a bit more aggressive, hitting Herath for two sixes before being trapped by Perera. Sarfraz Ahmed has been dependable in such situations but he too succumbed to the pressure, gloving a sweep off Perera to short-leg to end all hopes of Pakistan coming close to the Sri Lankan total.


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