Pakistan vs Sri Lanka 3rd Test Day 5: Ali and Ul-Haq star in remarkable run chase

Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo

Pakistan now hold the record for the fastest 300-plus run chase in Test cricket history

Pakistan completed the fastest 300-plus run chase in Test cricket history behind Azhar Ali’s sparkling century and captain Misbah-ul-Haq’s outstanding half-century on the fifth and final day of the third Test against Sri Lanka in Sharjah.

Ali and ul-Haq were well supported by wicketkeeper Sarfraz Ahmed, who smashed a quickfire 48, as Pakistan went on to end the series as a 1-1 draw.

Starting out the day on 133/5, Sri Lanka wicketkeeper Prasanna Jayawardene and captain Angelo Mathews converted their six-run partnership into a 62-run partnership before Mathews was caught by Khurram Manzoor off the bowling of Mohammad Talha for 31.

After making 95 in the first innings, debutant Dilruwan Perera could only make eight runs before he was caught by Azhar Ali off the bowling of Abdur Rehman.

Rangana Herath was dismissed the very next ball as he was caught by Younis Khan in the slip region.

Jayawardene ended up making 49 off 88 balls, which included six boundaries, before he was caught by Ali at short leg off the bowling of Saeed Ajmal.

Sri Lanka were eventually bowled out for 214 when Shaminda Eranga was caught by Rehman at point off the bowling of Ajmal for three runs.

Rehman was the pick of the Pakistani bowlers with four wickets, while Ajmal and Talha chipped in with three wickets apiece.

Needing 302 to win the match and end the series as a 1-1 draw, Pakistan got off to a poor start as opening batsman Ahmed Shehzad was caught by Dimuth Karunaratne deep square leg off the bowling of Suranga Lakmal for 21.

Khurram Manzoor 21 runs before he was caught behind off the bowling of Lakmal.

Khan and Ali stabilised the innings with a 49-run partnership before Khan threw his wicket away on 29 by hitting a delivery from Mathews to Kumar Sangakkara at midwicket.

Ali and wicketkeeper Sarfraz Ahmed kept the runs flowing with am 89-run partnership before Ahmed was caught behind off the bowling of Eranga.

Ahmed’s solid knock of 48 came off 46 deliveries and included four boundaries and a six.

From that point on, it was all Pakistan as Ali and ul-Haq amassed a 109-run partnership, during which Ali brought up his fifth Test century and ul-Haq his half-century, before Ali was caught behind off the bowling of Lakmal.

Ali’s fabulous innings of 103 came off 137 balls and included six boundaries.

Pakistan eventually reached their target of 302 and broke the record for the fastest 300-plus run chase in Test cricket history in the process.

Ul-Haq ended up finishing on 68 off 72 deliveries, which included four boundaries.

Lakmal was the most successful Sri Lankan bowler with three wickets, while Eranga and Mathew chipped in with one wicket apiece.

Mathews was disappointed with his team’s performance and, in a rather surprising move, he blamed the batsmen instead of the bowlers for the loss.

“I thought the first three and a half days we were brilliant and the batting in the second innings, we collapsed,” he said. “We should have got more than 260. They were desperate to win because they were 1-0 down so we held on. Did that well for the first three and a half days, but our batting failed. Can’t blame the spinners, it was more our batters’ fault.”

Ul-Haq was ecstatic to have ended the series on a high note, and said: “Really wanted to win, especially for Dav [Whatmore]. We wanted to win it for him and level the series. We really enjoyed being with him for all two years. We love you and we wish you all success.

“Sometimes the situation really gives you a guideline. We were one down and everyone thought we should go for it. Even when they scored 400-plus everyone was positive and even with this 300 target, we knew we could go for it and get the win. Great knock by Azhar. It’s surely a great moment and it gives great confidence to the team for more success in the future.”

Ali was named Man of the Match for his spectacular century.

“The message was clear from the management and when I went in and I just played my game,” he said. “[I] Talked to Younis Khan before the game [since] I didn’t play well before this match. I wanted to play positively and I did that. Most valued innings in my career.”

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