GALLE: Pakistan right-handed batter Salman Ali Agha, who scored a fighting half-century for the touring side, fell moments before the stumps as Sri Lanka took command of the ongoing Test with 187 runs lead.
The third and final session of the second day remained evenly poised until the last ball of the day but Salman’s dismissal on the last delivery shifted the momentum into the hosts’ favour.
Pakistan, who seemed to have steadied by the valiant seventh-wicket partnership between Salman and Yasir Shah are once again struggling at 191/7 with a 187-run deficit.
Earlier in the session, the touring side lost their experienced left-handed batter, Fawad Alam, for 24, who fell briefly after Tea as Ramesh Mendis trapped him in his legs.
All-rounder Mohammad Nawaz then put on a brief fight with his 37-ball 12 but he too could not hold on for long as Mendis removed him via caught behind.
Following his dismissal, Salman joined hands with leg-spinner Yasir and added a crucial 46-run partnership for the seventh wicket. Salman kept the scoreboard ticking and soon amassed his maiden half-century while Yasir displayed grit with his defence.
The partnership between the two batters was fostering well before Prabath Jayasuriya struck on the last delivery of the day’s play and gave an upper hand to the home side.
Salman scored 62 off 126 balls, laced with six boundaries and a six, while Yasir remained unbeaten with 13 off 61.
Following the late dismissal, Pakistan will now resume their proceedings at 191/7 on the third day of the second Test with a huge deficit of 187 runs.
For Sri Lanka, Mendis led the way with three wickets, while Jayasuriya made two scalps. Asitha Fernando and Dhananjaya de Silva, on the other hand, struck out a batter each.
The hosts enjoyed a dominating second session after finishing the first session on a high. The Sri Lankan bowlers displayed combined bowling effort and made three scalps for their side to give them an upper hand over the visitors.
Resuming their proceedings at 15/1 after Abdullah’s early dismissal, the dynamic duo of Pakistan, Babar and Imam could only add 20 runs to the total before Prabath Jayasuriya castled the right-handed batter for a mere 16.
Following Babar’s dismissal, Imam looked to carry the innings with a brief partnership with Mohammad Rizwan, which saw the two batters adding just 30 runs as the former perished this time around after top-scoring with 32 off 54 balls, laced with four boundaries.
Rizwan’s stay at the crease also remained brief after Imam’s departure, as he could only score 24 off 35 deliveries.
With the touring side struggling at 88/4, Fawad and Salman displayed resilience and carried their bat till the conclusion of the second session.
In the first session, Sri Lanka, after resuming their first innings from an overnight score of 315/6, managed to add crucial 63 runs to the total and pushed the touring side on the back foot.
Wicket-keeper batter Niroshan Dickwella, who was eyeing his half-century at the stumps on the opening day, soon amassed the milestone. The right-handed batter scored 51 off 54 balls, laced with six boundaries and a six.
Besides Dickwella, Ramesh also chipped in with his important knock for the team as he scored an important 35 off 52 balls including five boundaries and bolstered his side to a massive total of 378 while the tailenders remained clueless against the Pakistan bowling attack.
For Pakistan, Naseem Shah and Yasir Shah bagged three wickets each, while Mohammad Nawaz claimed two. Nauman Ali, on the other hand, made one scalp.
In response to Sri Lanka’s 378, Pakistan were off to the worst possible start as the touring side lost their last match hero Abdullah for a two-ball duck in the first two balls of their inning.
Following Abdullah’s early departure, Pakistan captain Babar Azam and left-handed opener Imam-ul-Haq anchored the inning and made sure that the side do not lose further wickets as they finished at 15/1 at Lunch.