Sri Lanka Level Series with Seven Wicket Win Over Pakistan
Sri Lanka negotiated a 153-run target, the threat of rain and a brief batting stutter to eventually ease to a seven-wicket win over Pakistan in the second Test at the P Sara Oval, levelling the series with one match to go. Opener Dimuth Karunaratne's fifty and his 72-run partnership with captain Angelo Mathews for the third wicket was the calming influence in a chase that had got off to a frenzied start.
A wet outfield, the result of heavy overnight rain, had delayed the start of the day's play by half an hour and with the threat of rain looming over the final day, Sri Lanka played a gambit, pushing the aggressive Kithuruwan Vithanage to open the innings with Karunaratne.
In the first innings, Vithanage had fallen attempting an unnecessary reverse sweep at a crucial juncture. In the second, he did the job he was sent out to do, starting with his first ball off Junaid which was confidently flicked over midwicket for four.
By the time the lead spin pair of Yasir Shah and Zulfiqar Babar was introduced into the attack, Sri Lanka had raced away to 28 off four overs, with Vithanage contributing 18. In Babar's second over, Vithanage smacked a towering six straight down the ground and followed it up with a slog-sweep for six over midwicket off the next ball. Three deliveries later, he holed out to deep midwicket attempting a similar shot.
Off the next ball, the first of Yasir Shah's second over, Kumar Sangakkara was done in a delivery that spun in and took a deflection off the glove to short leg. The wickets would have raised Pakistan's hope of making Sri Lanka's chase a little tougher but Mathews and Karunaratne restored calm with their partnership.
There were a few opportunities for Pakistan with run-out chances created but the pair motored along smoothly, at a scoring-rate of 5.46 an over. Karunaratne fell two balls after scoring a fifty off 55 deliveries but Sri Lanka were only 32 runs adrift of the target at the time. Mathews' unbeaten 43 off 57 ensured there were no further hiccups for Sri Lanka.
The third Test begins in Pallekele on July 3.
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