1st Test, Day 3: Sri Lanka extend lead despite Nawaz five-wicket haul

Dinesh Chandimal (86 not out) helped Sri Lanka push their lead to 333 at the end of day three of first Test despite a brilliant five-wicket haul from Mohammad Nawaz here on Monday.

Sri Lanka lost Kasun Rajitha early on Day 3, with Mohammad Nawaz getting his second wicket of the innings. However, Pakistan were not able to press home the advantage as the Sri Lanka batters stabilised their innings. Both Oshada Fernando and Kusal Mendis paired well to drive Sri Lanka forward. Fernando was the more aggressive of the two, hitting some beautiful shots. He was well-supported by Kusal, who was solid in his defence.

Despite a couple of close lbw calls, Fernando survived to bring up a patient fifty. However, the 91-run stand was broken on the second ball after the lunch break but not before the duo had extended Sri Lanka’s lead to 136.

Fernando was Yasir Shah’s first wicket of the innings and he continued to impress as the Sri Lanka innings progressed further. He was complemented by Mohammad Nawaz, who was bowling maturely and soon dismissed the experienced Angelo Mathews. Kusal Mendis’ gritty innings of 76 was stopped by Yasir, a superb leg-spin delivery that brushed Kusal’s off-stump.

Yasir took his third wicket of the innings with another beauty, stopping Dhananjaya de Silva’s 20-ball 20 knock. Even as Dinesh Chandimal held one end, Nawaz and Yasir tightened the screws on the rest of the line-up. As many as five wickets fell in the second session with Sri Lanka going to tea at 257/7. And soon after the break, Nawaz completed his maiden five-wicket haul in Tests with the scalp of Ramesh Mendis.

With eight wickets down and a lead of around 250, Sri Lanka needed someone to push them towards a more challenging total. And Dinesh Chandimal took up the job without ceremony. He had already formed useful partnerships with the lower middle-order and continued that as he got to his half-century.

He shared a 41-run ninth-wicket stand with Maheesh Theekshana (11 runs from 57 balls) and another unbeaten 21-run last-wicket partnership with Prabath Jayasuriya (4 not out) to take Sri Lanka’s lead to 333. Bad light forced early stumps in Galle with Sri Lanka on 329/9 and Chandimal going strong on 86 not out.

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