Azhar Ali hit a superb century as Pakistan notched a thrilling five-wicket victory against Sri Lanka by scoring a rapid 302-5 in the third Test on Monday to level the series 1-1.
Ali blazed 103 off 137 balls with six fours and captain Misbah-ul-Haq remained unbeaten on 68 off 72 balls as Pakistan romped home with nine balls remaining on the last day for its second-best run chase in Test matches.
In Pakistan’s only other successful run chase of more than 300 runs, it defeated Australia by one wicket in 1994 in Karachi while chasing 314 runs.
Ali shredded Sri Lanka’s bowlers and set up the chase with a run-a-ball 89 for the fourth-wicket stand with Sarfraz Ahmed (48) before putting on a match-winning 109 off 119 balls with Misbah.
Earlier, Prasanna Jayawardene made an aggressive 49 before Sri Lanka was bowled out for 214 for an overall lead of 301 and left Pakistan with 59 overs to get victory.
Sri Lanka won the second Test by nine wickets after the first Test was drawn.
Pakistan needed 195 in the last 35 overs after Suranga Lakmal (3-79) had removed openers and reduced Pakistan to 107-3 by tea.
Ahmed departed in the 37th over when he gloved a leg-side catch off Shaminda Eranga but Misbah continued to push the accelerator as Sri Lanka’s bowlers had no answer to stop the Pakistan batsmen from scoring at a brisk pace.
Ali raised his century off 133 balls but edged Lakmal under fading light with Pakistan needing only seven runs for victory as Misbah hit the winning run in the next over off Eranga.
Earlier, Lakmal cut short Ahmed Shehzad and Khurram Manzoor’s brisk starts of 21 runs each and captain Angelo Mathews got rid of Younis Khan (29) to restrict Pakistan by tea.
Khan added 49 runs with Ali, but in search of quick runs he pulled Mathews straight to Kumar Sangakkara at short mid-wicket.
Resuming at the overnight score of 133-5 on the last day, Sri Lanka’s tailenders frustrated Pakistan before the second innings eventually ended on 214 at lunch on the last day.
It gave Sri Lanka a lead of 301 runs after Pakistan conceded an 87-run first innings lead.
Jayawardene hit six fours and added 62 runs with Mathews (31) before he was caught close to the wicket by Ali off Saeed Ajmal (3-53).
Mathews had not added to his overnight score of 14 when he survived an lbw appeal against Mohammad Talha (3-65) as Pakistan’s luck seemed to have run out.
Jayawardene made Sri Lanka’s intentions clear from the outset by scoring at a brisk pace as he added 56 runs in the first hour with Mathews.
Left-arm spinner Abdul Rehman (4-56) struck off successive deliveries to dismiss Dilruwan Perera and Rangana Herath, but Eranga successfully defended the hat-trick ball.
Sri Lanka’s last wicket pair frustrated Pakistan for nearly five overs before Ajmal finally wrapped up the innings when Eranga top-edged a cut to Rehman at point.
Sri Lanka — 1st innings: 428 for nine decl.
Pakistan — 1st innings: 341.
Sri Lanka — 2nd innings: D. Karunaratne b Talha 8, K. Silva b Rehman 36, K. Sangakkara c Manzoor b Rehman 8, M. Jayawardene c Azhar b Ajmal 46, D. Chandimal b Talha 13, A. Mathews c Manzoor b Talha 31, P. Jayawardene c Azhar b Ajmal 49, D. Perera c Azhar b Rehman 8, R. Herath c Younis b Rehman 0, S. Eranga c Rehman b Ajmal 3, S. Lakmal (not out) 2; Extras (b-2, lb-4, nb-2, w-2): 10; Total (in 101.4 overs): 214.
Fall of wickets: 1-13, 2-37, 3-66, 4-89, 5-127, 6-189, 7-203, 8-203, 9-209.
Pakistan bowling: Junaid 20-6-34-0, Talha 23-2-65-3, Rehman 33-10-56-4, Ajmal 25.4-7-53-3.
Pakistan — 2nd innings: K. Manzoor c P. Jayawardene b Lakmal 21, A. Shehzad c Karunaratne b Lakmal 21, Azhar Ali c P. Jayawardene b Lakmal 103, Younis c Sangakkara b Mathews 29, Sarfraz c P. Jayawardene b Eranga 48, Misbah (not out) 68, A. Shafiq (not out) 1; Extras (b-6, lb-1, nb-1, w-3): 11; Total (for five wkts. in 57.3 overs): 302.
Fall of wickets: 1-35, 2-48, 3-97, 4-186, 5-295.
Sri Lanka bowling: Lakmal 12-0-79-3, Eranga 15.3-0-68-1, Herath 19-0-100-0, Mathews 11-0-48-1.
Man-of-the-match: Azhar Ali.
Man-of-the-series: A. Mathews.
Keywords: Paksitan-Sri Lanka Test series