Angelo Mathews made amends for missing a century in the first innings with a gritty unbeaten 116 in the second as Sri Lanka racked up a solid lead in the opening Test against Pakistan in Abu Dhabi on Friday.
Starting the penultimate day of the match with a slender lead of seven runs, Sri Lanka lost just a single wicket during the entire day to reach 420 for five at stumps, a second-innings lead of 241 runs.
The wicket of Dinesh Chandimal (89) was the lone success for the Pakistan bowlers as their hard work proved futile on an unresponsive surface.
Left-arm seamer Junaid Khan, who took five wickets in the first innings, picked up his third scalp in the second when Chandimal hooked him straight to Rahat Ali at deep fine leg.
Chandimal, unbeaten on 24 overnight, added 138 runs for the fifth wicket with captain Mathews and put paid to Pakistan's hopes of making early inroads.
"I’m quite disappointed, because that 89 came in difficult circumstances for the team. It was a really tough situation. But as a team, it’s really heartening to see where we have got to. In the morning they had the match in their hands, but by evening we had swung it our way," said vice-captain Chandimal at the post-match press conference.
"I’ve always said sportsmen have bad patches. What we have to know is how to come out of those poor runs. I worked on a lot of things in the past months and now is the chance for me to get some benefit from that. As a cricketer I’m really happy with the way I played," said Chandimal who has been under fire for failing to get big scores after being handed the leadership role.
Mathews, who hit 12 fours and a six on his way to his second Test hundred, then added 96 for the unbroken sixth wicket with wicketkeeper Prasanna Jayawardene (48 not out) to deny Pakistan any further success.
Ace off-spinner Saeed Ajmal was wicketless after sending down 42 overs in the second innings and his lack of success on a fourth-day pitch underlined the misery for the Pakistan bowlers.
"He’s a really good bowler at the moment. We never underestimated him. He bowled very well in the last 2-3 years. The thing is we played two or three Tests against him in Sri Lanka, so that’s really helpful for this series," said Chandimal when asked whether they had succeeded in taming Pakistan's ace spinner.
He said they would play positively and go in search of a win on the final day when asked how the pitch behaved and their target.
"One side has a bit of spin. Probably it is going to be slower tomorrow (Saturday). Yesterday (Thursday) it had a lot of seam. Today the ball came a bit slower. Tomorrow also it will get slower. We’ll keep our fingers crossed to win the game," said Chandimal.
There was more heartbreak for Pakistan on Friday as they lost wicket-keeper Adnan Akmal for the remainder of the series due to a fracture in his left-hand index finger.
First-innings top-scorer Younus Khan took over the gloves for Pakistan during the day's play.
A gritty unbeaten century by skipper Angelo Mathew (116) handed Sri Lanka the advantage against Pakistan in the first Test at Sheikh Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi on Friday.
Trailing by 179 runs in the first innings, Sri Lanka ended day four on 420 for five, having resumed from their overnight total of 186-4.
Sri Lanka enjoy a lead of 241 runs with five wickets in hand with Mathews and Prasanna Jayawardene having added 96 runs for the unfinished sixth wicket.
Mathews led from the front with a chanceless innings during which he faced 282 balls and hit 12 fours and a six, enroute to stroking his first century as captain.
He shared in a 138-run stand for the fifth wicket with his deputy Dinesh Chandimal who frustrated the Pakistan bowlers during the afternoon before falling for 89 after having faced 166 balls and hit 12 fours.
Wicket keeper batsman Prasanna Jayawardena was with him at close on 48 off 107 balls having hit five boundaries and a six.
Prasanna sweeps Ajmal for a boundary to midwicket as Sri Lanka blunt the tired Pakistan attack. SL 415-5 in 146 overs.
Prasanna whacks a short ball from Rahat for a six over backward square leg and survives a close call for a leg before next ball with Pakistan being unsuccessful with the decision review. SL 410-5 in 143 overs.
Mathews pulls a half tracker from Rahat for another boundary. SL 399-5 in 139 overs.
Mathews scores his first century as captain and second of his career by tucking away Bhatti for a couple of runs. SL 387-5 in 133 overs.
His flawless innings which consumed six hours during which he faced 239 balls contained 11 four and a six came more than two years after he got his first against Australia.
Ajmal bowls a maiden to Mathews who is on 99. SL 380-5 in 130 overs.
Prasanna cracks consecutive boundaries off Bhatti, a classic cover drive and an edge over the slip cordon to third man, to take Sri Lanka's lead past 200. SL 380-5 in 129 overs.
Mathews cracks consecutive boundaries off Bhatti, pushing to long-on and swinging to midwicket, to move to 96. SL 371-5 in 127 overs.
Prasanna hits the first boundary after the tea interval driving Hafeez through extra cover. SL 361-5 in 126 overs.
Sri Lanka extended their lead to 176 as they took tea at 355-5 in 125 overs in their second innings on day four of the first Test at Sheikh Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi on Friday.
Dinesh Chandimal was the only batsman out in the afteroon session in which they added 70 runs in 28 overs, with Junaid inducing the batsman to hook straight to Rahat at backward square leg.
Chandimal mixed aggression with caution making 89 off 166 balls hitting 12 fours and sharing in a 138-run fifth wicket stand with skipper Mathews who remained unbeaten on 87.
Mathews has hit nine boundaries and a six during his knock. Wicketkeeper batsman Prasanna Jayawardena is with him on 14.
Prasanna hits his first boundary whipping a full toss from Junaid to midwicket. SL 348-5 in 119 overs.
Pakistan break a 168-run partnership for the fifth wicket between Mathews and Chandimal who became Junaid's 50th Test wicket in 14 matches. SL 326-5 in 110 overs.
Chandimal falls to the trap laid by Junaid hooking a bouncer straight down the throat of Rahat at backward square leg. SL 324-5 in 109 overs.
Dinesh Chandimal c Rahat Ali b Junaid Khan 89 (166b 12x4 0x6)
Mathews cuts Ajmal past slip for a boundary to third man. SL 324-4 in 108 overs.
Chandimal steps out and slams Ajmal for an exquisite boundary through the covers. SL 313-4 in 104 overs.
Mathews pulls Bhatti to the midwicket fence for another boundary as Sri Lanka stretch their lead. SL 307-4 in 103 overs.
Chandimal continues to live dangerously getting a couple of boundaries to third man, the first one flying narrowly past the outstretched hands of Shehzad. SL 298-4 in 99 overs.
Chandimal opens with a boundary after lunch driving the fourth ball from Ajmal sweetly through the covers. SL 289-4 in 98 overs.
It also brings up the 100 partnership for the unfinished fifth wicket between Chandimal (47) and Mathews (56) in 217 balls.
Sri Lanka are 285-4 in 97 overs at lunch in their second innings on day four of the first Test against Pakistan at Sheikh Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi on Friday.
Sri Lanka’s fifth wicket pair of Dinesh Chandimal and Angelo Mathews frustrated Pakistan during the first session.
Both captain Mathews and his deputy Chandimal shared a 99-run unbroken partnership to carry Sri Lanka to 285 for four wickets – an overall lead of 106 with five sessions of play left in the match.
Chandimal was unbeaten on 67 scored off 124 balls (8 fours), his fifth Test half-century and Mathews followed his first innings knock of 91 with another captain’s innings of 56 not out scored off 125 balls with six fours and a six.
Resuming at the overnight total of 186 for four wickets, Chandimal and Mathews negotiated everything that Pakistan skipper Misbah-ul-Haq threw at them including the second new ball which was taken in the 81st over.
This was a crucial stage of the innings for had Pakistan managed to breakthrough with the second new ball they would have been scenting victory.
But Mathews and Chandimal showing pluck and courage stuck to their task to bat through the lengthy morning session extended by 30 minutes to accommodate the Friday prayers adding 99 runs.
Mathews completes his 12th Test half century with a single off Ajmal. It came off 113 balls and contained five boundaries and a six. SL 276-4 in 94 overs.
Chandimal survives to confident appeals for leg before off Junaid before clipping the left arm pacer to the midwicket fence. SL 257-4 in 82 overs.
Mathews tucks away Bhatti to backward square leg for a boundary. SL 253-4 in 81 overs.
Pakistan took the second new ball after 80.3 overs.
Sri Lanka enjoy a lead of 70 runs after 75 minutes of play with Chandimal unbeaten on 55 and Mathews on 32 at the first drinks interval. SL 249-4 in 80 overs.
Mathews dances down the track and hoists Ajmal over long-on for a six. SL 247-4 in 79 overs.
Chandimal glances Ajmal to the fine leg fence for his sixth boundary to complete his fifth Test half century off 81 balls.
Mathews drives Rahat beautifuly through the covers for another boundary as Sri Lanka pile on the runs in the first hour of play. SL 232-4 in 76 overs.
Chandimal cuts Rahat uppishly over the gully fielder to third man. SL 223-4 in 74 overs.
Mathews smashes Junaid to midwicket for his second boundary. SL 210-4 in 70 overs.
Mathews slashes Bhatti through point for a boundary to bring up the 200 of the innings. SL 203-4 in 69 overs.
Chandimal hits the first boundary of the fourth morning pulling Bhatti to square leg. SL 194-4 in 65 overs.
Sri Lanka resumed day four on 186-4 in their second innings having a lead of seven runs in the opening Test against Pakistan at Sheikh Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi on Friday.
Pakistan suffered an injury blow with wicket keeper Adnan Akmal being ruled out of the series after breaking his left index finger while taking a low catch to dismiss Kaushal Silva in the final over of the third day.
Younis Khan has taken the wicket keeping gloves in his place for this match while Sarfraz Ahmed will join the side for the next two Tests.