Perera gives Sri Lanka edge
Thisara Perera’s bustling half-century brought a halt to a mid-innings wobble as Sri Lanka established a solid lead on day three of the third Test against Pakistan in Pallekele.
Responding to Pakistan’s 226 all out, the hosts defied Junaid Khan’s five-wicket haul to reach 337, having earlier lost three wickets for 33 runs.
Perera, whose four scalps were so crucial in removing the Pakistan top-order on the opening morning, hit an impressive 75 off just 86 balls - including a quartet of fours and three sixes - to ensure his side a vital first-innings advantage.
Tharanga Paranavitana and Thilan Samaraweera made 75 and 73 respectively for Sri Lanka in a 143-run fourth-wicket stand, before both fell to Saeed Ajmal.
Sri Lanka were finally all out late in the day, but there was still time for six overs of Pakistan’s second innings, with Taufeeq Umar’s dismissal for four - lbw to Nuwan Kulasekara - a significant loss as the tourists closed on 27 for one, still trailing by 84 runs.
The home side, already 1-0 up in the series heading into the final Test, began the day on a shaky 44 for three.
And with day two washed out by rain, Pakistan would have been hoping to make further inroads early on to boost their chances of claiming victory and salvaging a draw from the three-match rubber.
But they met stiff resistance from Paranavitana and Samaraweera. The pair kept the score ticking along at around three an over and rarely looked troubled until Ajmal made the breakthrough, trapping Samaraweera plumb in front after the right-hander played down the wrong line.
Angelo Mathews had made just nine before he cut a wide Junaid delivery to Asad Shafiq in the gully and Paranavitana departed by chopping Ajmal on to his stumps to end his stoic 188-ball stay and leave Sri Lanka reeling.
Prasanna Jayawardene compiled just 20 before he was trapped lbw by Umar Gul as Sri Lanka slipped to 236 for seven, but that was the cue for Perera and Kulasekara to hit back with a timely eighth-wicket stand of 84.
Junaid finally broke the partnership when he removed Kulasekara for 33, and Rangana Herath added just two runs before his dismissal, lbw to Ajmal, left Sri Lanka on the brink.
Perera’s was last to fall as Junaid, who took 5-70, set the seal on an impressive personal display.