Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews and debutant Dilruwan Perera narrowly missed centuries but guided Sri Lanka to a solid first innings total on the second day of the third and final Test against Pakistan in Sharjah on Friday.
Pakistan openers Khurram Manzoor (14) and Ahmed Shehzad (five) survived six overs before stumps to take their team to 19 for no loss, after Sri Lanka declared their first innings on 428 for nine wickets.
Needing a draw to seal a series victory, the Sri Lankan batsmen appeared in no hurry to score runs on a slow turning pitch at Sharjah Cricket Stadium.
Resuming on their overnight score of 220 for five, Sri Lanka lost Prasanna Jayawardene (35) early when he hooked Mohammad Talha straight to Junaid Khan at deep fine leg.
Jayawardene added 73 runs with Mathews (91) for the sixth wicket.
Mathews, who scored 91 and 157 not out in the drawn first test in Abu Dhabi, continued to frustrate Pakistan and added 112 runs with Perera (95) before he holed out to Ahmed Shehzad at deep cover off Junaid.
The left-arm paceman trapped Rangana Herath leg before with his next ball for his third wicket to raise Pakistan's hopes of wrapping up the innings quickly.
But Perera continued to defy Pakistan, adding 72 for the ninth wicket with tailender Shaminda Eranga (25) and take the total past 400.
He fell in similar fashion to Jayawardene, his hook shot off Talha finding Junaid in the deep.
"I'm happy to get 95 in my debut innings. Obviously disapointed at missing out on a century but I'm glad with my performance for the team," said Dilruwan, who was on the brink of becoming the first Sri Lankan to make a century on his Test debut overseas.
"My captain (Angelo Mathews) just encouraged me to play my normal game. It was not easy playing the best spin duo in the world," he said when asked how he tackled Saeed Ajmal and Abdur Rehman who conceded more than 100 runs apiece.
Pakistan managed to keep a lid on the scoring rate but were left to rue their bad luck during the day with a number of close appeals going against them.
Junaid wowed Pakistan would continue to keep on fighting during the next couple of days in a bid to level the series.
"It was a tough day. This is part of Test cricket. We will keep on making effort and hopefully Pakistan will put up a good fight," said Junaid who felt the flat wicket helped Sri Lanka make a huge total.
When asked about debutant Dilruwan's knock he said: "He played really but there was nothing in the wicket for bowlers."
Angelo Mathews (91) and debutant Dilruwan Perera (95) showed a lot of grit to ensure Sri Lanka reached a fine 428 for nine before declaring their first innings.
In reply, Pakistan openers Khurram Manzoor (14) and Ahmed Shehzad (5) were in the middle before stumps were drawn.
Khurram Manzoor's scores back to back boundaries as Pakistan reach 19 for no loss in 6 overs.
Ahmed Shehzad and Khurram Manzoor open for Pakistan. Herath bowls for Lanka.
Sri Lanka want to give their bowlers a chance to get some early breakthrough at the end of Day 2 with around eight overs remaining as they declared their innings at 428-9 in 172 overs.
It was sad to see two batsmen - Angelo Mathews and debutant Dilruwan Perera - missing out on well deserved centuries by close margins.
For Pakistan, Junaid Khan and Mohammad Talha returned with three wickets each while Saeed Ajmal took two.
SRI LANKA INNINGS
That was very disappointing for Perera. He was almost there and misses his maiden century by just five runs. SL 424-9 in 170 overs.
D Perera c Junaid Khan b Mohammad Talha 95 (247b 12x4 2x6)
It's drinks. Perera is on 90. Just 10 runs away from a dream century on debut. SL 416-8 in 168 overs.
Perera races to 81 with a superb six and a boundary as Sri Lanka cross 400. SL 402-8 in 162 overs.
Sri Lanka are 382 for eight in 160 overs. Perera is on 67.
A double strike from Junaid Khan meant Sri Lanka were 359 for eight in 154 overs at tea on the second day.
Angelo Mathews missed his century when he was out on 91 while debutant Dilruwan Perera is battling it out in the middle scoring a gritty unbeaten half century.
Pakistan's Junaid has achieved three wickets form the 28 overs he has bowled.
A fine boundary and Perera gets to his half century on his debut. A brilliant knock for Sri Lanka. SL 356-8 in 150.5 overs.
That's another for Junaid. He is on a hat-trick here. Herath goes after he leg before. Calls for a review but the decision holds. SL 351-8 in 148.4 overs.
R Herath lbw b Junaid Khan 0 (1b 0x4 0x6)
Pakistan finally achieve success. Junaid again is the man as he claimed his second wicket. Mathews should consider himself unlucky to have not got all the way to a well deserved century. SL 351-7 in 148.3 overs.
A Mathews c Ahmed Shehzad b Junaid Khan 91 (256b 5x4 1x6)
Sri Lanka reach 350. Brilliant effort from both Mathews and Perera who have shared an unbroken 111-run partnership. SL 350-6 in 146.3 overs.
Mathews gets a boundary and the 100 runs partnership comes between Mathews and Perera. SL 339-6 in 139 overs.
Runs coming a little quicker now for Sri Lanka. SL 326-6 in 133 overs.
Mathews going strong on 68 while Perera gets a fine boundary to enter the 30s. SL 311-6 in 128 overs
Angelo Mathews held his innings firm as Sri Lanka scored 302 for six in 125 overs at lunch in the first innings on day two of the third Test.
Mathews is batting on 67 and debutant Dilruwan Perera is 29 not out.
Pakistan managed to pick just one wicket of Prasanna Jayawardene on 35.
The partnership reaches 50. The scoring has been pretty slow for Sri Lanka. SL 289-6 in 120 overs.
A brilliant knock by Mathews as he gets his half century. Perera playing the perfect second fiddle as the partnership between the two reaches 38. SL 277-6 in 116 overs.
Perera looking a confident batsman on his debut, batting on 11. Mathews reaches to 40. SL 257-6 in 107 overs.
Sri Lanka are 247 for 6 in 100 overs.
Dilruwan Perera makes a fantastic debut with a fine square cut boundary. SL 243-6 in 95.2 overs.
Talha picks his second wicket. Prasanna Jayawardene holes one in the deep as Junaid takes a fine catch. SL 239-6 in 95.1 overs.
P Jayawardene c Junaid Khan b Mohammad Talha 35 (77b 2x4 0x6)
Pakistan lose their other review. Rehman felt Mathews was trapped in front of the stumps but umpire is not happy so is the Hawk Eye. Sl 239-5 in 95 overs.
Mathews on 30 while Jayawardene batting on 33. Sri Lanka need this big partnership. SL 231-5 in 93 overs.
Pakistan's Saeed Ajmal and Abdur Rehman will try to pack things as early as possible on the second day of the third Test in Sharjah Cricket Stadium.
Angelo Mathews and Prasanna Jayawardene sharing an unbeaten partnership are going strong for Sri Lanka.
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