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Pakistan’s chances of saving series fade

Sharjah, United Arab Emirates – Pakistan's chances of winning the third and final Test for a series-levelling win against Sri Lanka were fading fast on the fifth and final day in Sharjah on Monday.

Pakistan were 107/3 at tea, needing another 195 in the remaining 35 overs or bat out for a draw.

Pakistan's chances of winning the third and final Test for a series-levelling win against Sri Lanka were fading fast on the fifth and final day in Sharjah. Picture: Ishara S. Kodikara. Credit: AFP

At tea Azhar Ali (29) and Sarfraz Ahmed (seven) were at the crease.

Set a daunting 302 to win in a possible of 59 overs, Pakistan lost Ahmed Shehzad (21), Khurram Manzoor (21) and Younis Khan (29) and were derailed in their chase.

That means Sri Lanka are favourites to take the three-match series 1-0 after winning the second Test in Dubai by nine wickets. The first Test ended in a draw in Abu Dhabi.

Needing five-plus runs in an over to win, Pakistan were given a rapid 35-run start by the sixth over but Lakmal halted that progress by dismissing openers Shehzad and Manzoor within 13 runs.

Younis Khan tried to increase the pace but was caught off Angelo Mathews, two overs before tea.

Earlier, Sri Lanka were bowled out for 214 in their second innings, with left-arm spinner Abdul Rehman finishing with 4/56 and off-spinner Saeed Ajmal taking 3/53, but not before their batsmen had kept Pakistan at bay on the morning of the fifth and final day.

On an exciting day when both teams had a chance of victory, Mathews (31) and Prasanna Jayawardene (49) shared a 62-run stand for the sixth wicket, and batted positively to add 56 in the first hour.

But Mohammad Talha gave Pakistan their much-needed breakthrough when he had Mathews caught off a miscued hook.

Rehman then grabbed two quick wickets to put the brakes on Sri Lanka, having Dilruwan Perera caught at short-leg for eight before removing Rangana Herath for a first-ball duck.

Herath recorded a golden pair in the match as he was also dismissed first ball in the first innings.

Prasanna hit six boundaries in his 88-ball knock before he was dismissed by Ajmal, who also removed Shaminda Eranga to wrap up the innings.

Pakistan could have reduced Sri Lanka further had they not dropped two crucial catches in the last hour on Sunday, with Mathews let off on 11 by Manzoor and Prasanna dropped by wicketkeeper Sarfraz on nought. – Sapa-AFP

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