Lunch Sri Lanka 419 and 138 (Dickwella 37*, Yasir 5-51) lead Pakistan 422 by 135 runs
Pakistan took a meandering match by the collar, took six wickets on the final morning, and now stand only 136 runs from victory in the first Test – a turn of events nearly impossible to imagine as recently as two seconds ago.
Leading their remarkable resurgence, as ever in the UAE, was Yasir Shah, who had his legbreaks spitting out of the next district, on his way to figures of 5 for 51. Mohammad Abbas and Hasan Ali shared three wickets between them in the morning session, in which Sri Lanka mustered only 69 runs. So dominant were Pakistan’s bowling that they created eight fatal errors in total, but the two drops in the slips did not end up delaying their charge very long.
Before Yasir’s campaign began in earnest, Abbas was the man to claim what was perhaps the most important wicket of the day. Kusal Mendis has resisted good bowling attacks in the second innings in the past 14 months, but here, had his outside edge beaten by an Abbas away-seamer, before the next ball leapt back at him off the seam. It hit him just in line with the stumps, and though Mendis ventured a review, the decision would stand. He was out for 18.
Niroshan Dickwella, the next man in, held Pakistan back for a while, making use of his sweeps and reverse-sweeps in particular, but so viciously was Yasir turning the ball now, he rarely seemed in control of these shots. Nightwatchman Suranga Lakmal struggled against Yasir for a few overs, before eventually pulling Abbas into the hands of square leg.
Dickwella attempted the occasional boundary, once even running at Yasir to hit him down the ground, but the remaining lower-order batsmen had neither the skill nor the temperament to defuse bowling of such high quality. Dilruwan Perera had already survived a few nervous moments before he was stuck in front of the stumps by a Yasir slider. Rangana Herath was caught bat-pad the very next ball.
Sri Lanka at this stage were effectively 98 for 8, and that scoreline would improve only marginally, and not without helpings of luck. Lakshan Sandakan edged his way to eight off 18 balls, before he attempted a needless cut off Yasir and holed out to point one ball before lunch. Dickwella, who had been dropped by slip for 35 off Hasan, remained unbeaten on 40, having attempted the shield the tail from the strike. Nevertheless Nuwan Pradeep was cleaned up first ball, and Sri Lanka face defeat in a match they had been competitive in for so long.