Pakistan failed to take advantage of Sri Lanka’s 320 first innings on Saturday, posting 332 to keep the second Test wide open in Colombo.
The hosts went on to rack up 177-for-2 at stumps to round off Day 3, but it’s Rangana Herath who’ll be stealing the headlines after a phenomenal bowling display.
The Sri Lankan spinner produced a remarkable 9-for-127 haul as he worked his way through the Pakistan order, demonstrating exactly why he’s one of the most feared spin bowlers in the game.
Here’s a look at the scorecard from another exciting day of Test cricket in Sri Lanka:
|Tharanga||c Azhar Ali||b Riaz||92||179||12||0|
|K Silva||c Sarfraz Ahmed||b Junaid Khan||41||106||6||0|
|M Jayawardene||lbw||b Ajmal||4||16||0||0|
|Mathews||c Sarfraz Ahmed||b Riaz||39||86||3||0|
|Thirimanne||c Sarfraz Ahmed||b Junaid Khan||20||50||2||0|
|Dickwella||lbw||b Junaid Khan||24||27||2||0|
|D Perera||lbw||b Junaid Khan||0||3||0||0|
|Prasad||lbw||b Junaid Khan||13||34||2||0|
|Herath||c Y Khan||b Rehman||17||27||2||0|
|K Silva||c Y Khan||b Rehman||17||72||1||0|
|M Jayawardene||not out||49||123||7||0|
Herath Into the Record Books
While it’s easy to say that Pakistan’s batsmen didn’t perform on Saturday, there was nothing they could do about the brilliance of Herath.
As BBC Sport revealed, his 9-for-127 figures were the best recorded in Test cricket for 12 years, but the record gets a little better than that according to ESPNcricinfo:
Herath's 9 for 127 makes him the first left-arm bowler to take nine wickets in an innings in Test history— ESPNcricinfo (@ESPNcricinfo) August 16, 2014
The surface in Colombo was generous, sure, but the way that Herath got the ball moving was exemplary, limiting Pakistan to 332 almost single-handedly.
Pakistan looked like enduring a day to forget on Saturday with their front order struggling to make any real impact on the Test, but Sarfraz Ahmed came to the rescue.
The Pakistan wicketkeeper notched his maiden Test century on Day 3 with an impressive 103, rounding it off with a huge six to take him over the line.
HUNDRED! for Sarfraz. Congratulations :) pic.twitter.com/2BdWQbiKzJ— PTV Sports Official (@PTVSp0rts) August 16, 2014
His innings was over pretty soon afterward when Herath struck once again, but the damage to the scorecard was well and truly done.
Pakistan fans would have been fearing the worst with their openers struggling, but Ahmed put an end to the poor form of the tail-order batsmen—as OptaJim revealed:
2009 - Sarfraz Ahmed's century was the first by a Pakistani batting number 7-11 since Kamran Akmal vs. Sri Lanka, February 2009. Overdue.— OptaJim (@OptaJim) August 16, 2014
Ahmed’s expertise at the crease was a rare highlight for Pakistan, and their misery continued as Sri Lanka began their second innings.
Though Sri Lankan openers Upul Tharanga and Kaushal Silva were dismissed for 45 and 17 respectively, Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene then produced an excellent display to give the hosts an advantage.
The pair notched up 103 runs between them on Saturday, giving the Sri Lankans a great platform from which to build on Day 4.
The hosts’ lead currently stands at 165, but if they can find a way to get close to the 400 mark then the second Test could well be in the bag come Day 5.
Pakistan haven’t looked themselves with the bat across the series so far, and if Herath keeps up his stunning form, the visitors luck won’t be changing any time soon.