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Pakistan hold firm to secure series win

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Taufeeq Umar

Taufeeq Umar digs in for Pakistan on day five in Sharjah. His 121-ball 39 helped Misbah-ul-Haq's side secure a vital series-clinching draw

Pakistan were aided by a three-hour rain delay as they battled to a series-clinching draw against Sri Lanka in the third and final Test in Sharjah.

Already 1-0 up in the series after a nine-wicket victory in Dubai, Misbah-ul-Haq’s side crawled to 87 for four from 57 overs after being set a notional target of 255 on the final afternoon.

Misbah typified their resilience with a painstaking innings of nine not out from 86 balls. His unbroken fifth-wicket partnership of 10 with Asad Shafiq, who contributed seven from 55 deliveries, spanned almost 16 overs.

The result extends Sri Lanka’s winless streak to 14 Tests, although they can consider themselves somewhat unfortunate to have seen their victory push halted by showers this morning.

Having established a lead of 237 on day four, they were made to wait until 1:15pm to get underway today.

With only 67.2 overs to be bowled, it was a surprise to see Sri Lanka opt to bat on, the designated away side adding a mere 17 to their total in 26 deliveries before declaring on 181 for six.

Off-spinner Saeed Ajmal claimed his third wicket prior to the declaration when he bowled Kosala Kulasekara with a doosra from around the wicket.

Pakistan soon went into defensive mode with the bat after opener Mohammad Hafeez was run out for 13 in the fifth over by substitute fielder Lahiru Thirimanne’s direct hit from midwicket.

With an increasing number of fielders being employed in close proximity to the batsmen, spinners Rangana Herath and Suraj Randiv wheeled away in a bid to bring the game to life, but were unable to make the necessary number of breakthroughs.

Herath did produce a fine delivery to trap Azhar Ali lbw for seven and Younus Khan made just 11 before punching seamer Chanaka Welegedara straight to Thirimanne at mid-on.

The arrival of Misbah steadied Pakistan, however, and, although Taufeeq Umar was caught at point off Randiv for a 121-ball 39, it was not long before a draw was inevitable.