Sri Lanka battle hard against Pakistan spinners

SHARJAH, January 16, 2014 (AFP) – Sri Lanka battled hard against Pakistan’s spinners led by Saeed Ajmal to reach 220-5 at close on the opening day of the third Test in Sharjah on Thursday. Ajmal took 2-62 to leave Sri Lanka struggling at 166-5 before Angelo Mathews (24) and Prasanna Jayawardene (28) saw off the day with a 54-run unfinished stand on a spin-friendly Sharjah stadium pitch.

Pakistan were left to rue a dropped catch by paceman Mohammad Talha when Mathews had yet to get off the mark, while a leg-before decision against Prasanna was turned down on referral — two lapses which denied Pakistan the chance to take full control.

Pakistan took the second new ball after 87 overs with Sri Lanka on 206-5, but Mathews, who hit a career best 157 not out, and Prasanna, who helped Sri Lanka to salvage a draw in the first Test in Abu Dhabi, batted sensibly.

Sri Lanka lead the three-match series 1-0 after winning the second match in Dubai by nine wickets. The first Test ended in a draw.
Spinner Abdul Rehman admitted Mathews catch had made a big difference.

“It was a difficult catch but Talha tried his best,” said Rehman. “It has made some difference but we will try to get th