Pak vs SL: Pakistan hunt for wickets as hosts resume innings on day four

Pakistan´s Shaheen Afridi (L) balls during the first day of the first cricket Test match between Sri Lanka and Pakistan at the Galle International Cricket Stadium in Galle on July 16, 2023. — AFP

Leading Pakistan are looking to bag wickets against Sri Lanka, who resumed their second innings on day four of the first Test in Galle on Wednesday.

The home side took a 149-run lead against the hosts on Tuesday with the help of middle-order batter Saud Shakeel’s maiden double century.

Pakistan were bowled out for 461 in the final session after a frustrating ninth-wicket partnership of 94 between Shakeel, who remained not out on 208, and Naseem Shah, who scored six off 78 balls.

Earlier, 27-year-old Shakeel, who is playing his sixth Test, smacked Dhananjaya de Silva for a boundary to reach double century and received a standing ovation.

“When Naseem Shah joined me, he said that there´s a chance for me to go for the double hundred,” Shakeel told reporters after the marathon knock.

“A lot of credit to him for backing me and not letting me panic.”

The hosts ended the day on 14-0 after bad light stopped play.

Nishan Madushka, on eight, and skipper Dimuth Karunaratne, on six, were batting at stumps.

Spinner Ramesh Mendis ended with a five-wicket haul but Shakeel combined with the tailenders including a 52-run seventh-wicket partnership with Nauman Ali, who scored 25.

But it was his 177-run partnership with Agha Salman, who hit 83, which brought Pakistan back in the game after slipping to 101-5 in their reply to Sri Lanka’s 312.

“When I went in to bat, I wanted to attack If I had tried to be defensive we would have got bowled out for 150,” said Shakeel.

“That’s the reason I attacked and was able to take the game deep.”

Sri Lanka coach Chris Silverwood said: “I don’t think we did our best with the ball. It’s good to see Ramesh get five wickets haul which he deserved as a unit we weren´t good as we could have been.”

“We managed to control their run rate to an extent today but unfortunately, we missed a couple of key chances that cost us.”

— Additional input from AFP

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