Sri Lanka target early Pakistan wickets after De Silva ton – SportsMediaz

Sri Lankan century-maker Dhananjaya de Silva warned on Wednesday that they needed early Pakistan wickets on the final day of the second Test with bad weather looming.

Tourists Pakistan, who are chasing a record 508 for victory in Galle or need to bat out three sessions for a draw, were 89-1 when bad light stopped play on day four.

Left-handed opener Imam-ul-Haq was on 46 and skipper Babar Azam on 26.

The arrival of rain confirmed a second consecutive early finish, keeping alive Pakistan’s hopes of a draw — and with it victory in the two-match series, which they lead 1-0.

De Silva, who hit 109, said the hosts were wary that bad light could mean another shortened final session on Thursday.

“We need to get wickets early tomorrow,” he said. “The key is to bowl at one point consistently.”

The tourists will need to make an unprecedented chase — with another 419 runs needed to win — if they are to make it 2-0.

The West Indies hold the record for the highest successful Test chase with 418 against Australia in 2003 at Antigua.

Pakistan batting coach Mohammad Yousuf remained confident that his team could deliver, after going up to 443-7 in their chase of 506 to draw the second Test against Australia in March.

“Babar and Imam are playing to their strength and I feel if they play in the same manner we will try to go for the target,” said Yousuf.

Sri Lanka, who declared their second innings on 360-8 in the second session after resuming on 176-5, need nine wickets on the final day to end the series level.

Spinner Prabath Jayasuriya sent back first-match hero Abdullah Shafique for 16 with debutant Dunith Wellalage taking a good running catch at mid-off before tea.

Imam and Azam took their chances against the spinners to get quick runs in the weather-hit final session of play, with 47 runs and six boundaries between them.

– No pain, no gain –

Earlier, De Silva made a dominant century before being run out at the non-striker’s end and Sri Lanka skipper Dimuth Karunaratne called his batsmen back to the pavilion.

De Silva put on a key stand of 126 with overnight partner Karunaratne, a left-handed batsman who battled spasms of back pain during his knock of 61.

“Dimuth had a bit of a pain. He didn’t show it. He absorbed it and played,” said De Silva of his captain.

“What we wanted to do was to deny them wickets when they were bowling well. We knew if we batted for three sessions we will get to where we want to.”

Beginning the day on 27, De Silva reached his ninth Test hundred with a cracking boundary off Mohammad Nawaz.

Karunaratne went past 6,000 Test runs but fell in the first session after he escaped two close calls off Nauman Ali’s left-arm spin, unsuccessfully reviewed by Pakistan.

Nauman finally got Karunaratne caught at short leg, with Shafique taking a sharp reflex catch.

Karunaratne did not take to the field in the final innings with De Silva again standing in as skipper.

The tourists chased down a Galle record of 342 in the opener of the current series.

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