After conceding the first two day to Sri Lanka, Pakistan dominated day three of the Colombo Test, thanks in main to half-centuries from Ahmed Shehzad and Azhar Ali. The duo featured in a 120-run partnership for the second wicket, after Pakistan had lost the other opener Mohammad Hafeez early in the innings. The visitors end the day on 171 for 2, trailing Sri Lanka by merely six runs. Azhar was unbeaten on 64, when play was halted an hour into the final session. He had Younis Khan for company, who looked much more comfortable than in the first innings.
Having put a disappointing batting effort in the first innings, Pakistan’s batsmen needed to show much better application a second time round. Shehzad and Azhar did exactly that. After Angelo Mathews had given Sri Lanka a confident start, inducing an edge from Hafeez, Shehzad and Azhar reined themselves in, cutting out most of the risky strokes. But, while the duo did not go for many big hits, they managed to rotate the strike over constantly, as a result of which the pressure was never built on the batsmen.
The contest between Rangana Herath, who was not even needed to bowl in the first innings, and the Pakistan batsmen was going to a key one, and the Pakistan duo came out on top in the battle. Herath got one to turn past Shehzad very early in his spell. But, the batsman responded by stepping out and slamming him over long-on for six. Shehzad was lucky when an lbw decision against him was overturned after the replays showed that he had inside edged the ball. He could also have been run, but managed to get back before a throw from point could come in.
Azhar wasn’t comfortable against Herath at Galle, but grew in confidence as his innings progressed at Colombo. He stepped down the crease to smother the spin, and with both batsmen comfortable against the left-arm spinner, Herath couldn’t make much of an impact. Shehzad, however, was dismissed immediately after tea, as he top edged Dhammika Prasad into the keeper’s hands. Younis came in and hit a few crisp boundaries. Pakistan seemed set to overtake Sri Lanka, and head into the lead, when weather intervened again. With two days to go, neither side can claim the advantage for now.
--By A Cricket Correspondent