Abu Dhabi: The Abu Dhabi Test is now Sri Lanka's to lose as it posted 419 against Pakistan on the back of a marathon, unconquered 155 by Dinesh Chandimal, the captain, on the second day at Sheikh Zayed Stadium on Friday (September 29).
At close, Pakistan's 16th opening pair in the last five years -- Shan Masood and Sami Aslam -- took it to 64 without any loss. Still 355 in arrears, it will not be difficult for Pakistan to match the Sri Lankan total on the flat pitch.
Chandimal's resistance was praiseworthy as he batted nine hours and six minutes under in sultry conditions to lift Sri Lanka from 61 for 3, when he came to bat, and had three defining partnerships: 100 with Dimuth Karunaratne for the fourth wicket, an innings changing 134 with Nisroshan Dickwella for the fifth, and 92 with Dilruwan Perera.
Chandimal's form prior to the series was concerning, managing just 96 in the four innings against India, but here he came good on against Pakistan to bring up his ninth Test century -- his first in four matches as captain. He punched 14 boundaries and looked in complete command during a responsible knock.
Dickwella, who made a career-best 83, batted with positive intent right from the morning session. He survived a streaky edge off Hasan Ali in the second over of the day but since there was no second slip it became a boundary.
Dickwella reached his fifty off 67 balls, which was his sixth fifty in his Test career. Then, a reverse sweep off Yasir Shah for a boundary to point took him past his highest score of 81 that came against Zimbabwe two months ago.
In search for wickets, Pakistan struggled. A question mark was hanging over the fitness of Yasir, Mohammad Amir lacked zip, and it could not bowl Azhar Ali as he had recently recovered from a knee problem with an injection.
The fast bowlers were tiring under the heat and it was again a false stroke by Dickwella that brought Pakistan the breakthrough as late as in the 22nd over of the day. Dickwella hit nine boundaries and a six.
To compound Pakistan's misery, it wasn't lucking out with its decision reviews. Perera was adjudged out twice on nought, but on both occasions, the batsman challenged the verdicts and got it overturned. First, Yasir trapped him leg-before but the ball was missing the stumps, then Haris Sohail trapped him in front but a faint edge saved Perera. He also survived a stumping decision before finally falling to Sohail.
If that was not enough, Mohammad Abbas bowled Chandimal off a no-ball on 154 too. It didn't cost much, though, as Abbas mopped up the tail to finish as the best bowler for Pakistan with 3 for 75, while Yasir's 57 overs brought him 3 for 120.