Lunch Pakistan 273 for 3 (Shafique 137*, Shakeel 32*, Asitha 2-70, Jayasuriya 1-95) lead Sri Lanka 166 by 107 runs
But despite having lost an entire day due to rain yesterday, the Pakistan Way on the third morning seemed to encompass a far more measured approach to the helter-skelter style employed on day one.
The overnight pair of Shafique and Babar played out 13 deliveries before the first runs were scored, a boundary pulled behind square. They would then spend the next 18 deliveries scoring just two runs, before Shafique struck consecutive boundaries off Asitha Fernando – a single two deliveries later brought up his fourth Test century, the third by a Pakistan opener at the SSC.
Much of Pakistan’s conservatism this morning though could be put down to the wicket starting to show a little more favour towards the spinners. Prior to Babar’s dismissal, Jayasuriya caused him all manner of problems, on several occasions beating the outside edge with sharp turn from just outside off. But in trademark Jayasuriya style, it was the one going on with the arm that would grab the breakthrough.
Sri Lanka might have had another had Nishan Madushka held on to a sharp chance at short leg off Saud Shakeel, but aside from that it was a fairly non-plussed effort from the two Pakistan batters. Both Shakeel and Shafique were comfortable using their feet, and even though it was a sparingly employed strategy, both found the straight boundary when needed to ease any buildup of dot ball pressure.
It didn’t help the hosts cause that Sri Lanka’s bowlers, especially Ramesh Mendis, struggled with consistent lines and length. Only Jayasuriya provided any sort of concerted probing, resulting in him bowling 15 straight overs in the session.
In terms of the weather, there is more rain expected in Colombo today, but Pakistan will likely feel comfortable with the rate at which they’re stretching their lead.