| Azhar Ali, after his century, on Wednesday |
Pallekele: Pakistan’s Azhar Ali defiantly scored his fourth Test hundred but hosts Sri Lanka still scented victory in the third and final Test with the tourists leading by 188 in their second innings at the end of the fourth day on Wednesday.
Asad Shafiq, who shared a fifth wicket partnership of 100 with Azhar at the Pallekele Stadium, was unbeaten on 55 off 134 balls, having hit five fours, with Adnan Akmal on nought to leave Pakistan on 299 for eight wickets at the close.
Akmal, who suffered a hairline fracture on his left ring finger on the opening day of the final Test, came in to bat at the fall of the eighth wicket and held out for the last 13 minutes to see Pakistan through to the close.
After being rewarded with only three wickets in the first two sessions, Sri Lanka, who lead the three-match series 1-0, picked up four wickets in the final session as Pakistan battled to save the Test match and the series.
The second new ball taken after 80 overs produced two wickets for Dilhara Fernando who had Azhar playing a tired shot to be caught behind by Prasanna Jayawardene for a well compiled 136 off 284 balls (13 fours).
Fernando followed that up with the wicket of Mohammed Sami, trapped lbw for three, which brought him his 100th Test wicket and made him the fifth Sri Lanka bowler to achieve the feat.
Herath then turned on the heat by snapping up the wickets of Umar Gul (0) and Saeed Ajmal (5), both lbw victims, as Pakistan slid from a promising position of 276 for four wickets to 299 for eight wickets.