Twin tons put Pakistan on the brink

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Supreme efforts from Pakistan centurions Shan Masood and Younis Khan saw a complete turn-around in fortunes come stumps on day four of the third Test in Pallekele, with Sri Lanka needing to defend 147 more runs and take eight wickets on the last day.

Sri Lanka would have though they'd be well on top, especially after a century from Angelo Mathews saw the target set at a challenging 377, but despite taking two early wickets, Younis showed his experience by making 101 off 166 balls. Masood was on 114 at the close, his maiden Test ton.

The century, in the last over of the day, was Younis's 30th in Tests, drawing him level with the likes of Shiv Chanderpaul and Matthew Hayden. It was also his fifth ton in a fourth innings, the most by anyone in history, overtaking Graeme Smith.

The day began with Sri Lanka in the driving seat, holding a lead of 191 and still five wickets in hand. Mathews was on 77 and Dinesh Chandimal on 39, and the pair quickly began piling the runs on the board. Chandimal's 50 came off 76 balls, and he ended up making 67.

While Mathews recorded his fifth Test ton, off more than 200 deliveries, he was unable to prevent collapse before lunch though, as Imran Khan recorded his five-fer by removing all five wickets to fall. Mathews was the last wicket to fall, for 122, to bring about lunch.

As such, Pakistan faced a daunting task of either chasing the 377 required, or defending for nearly two days. They chose the former it seemed, as Azhar Ali and Ahmed Shehzad were out for single figures while trying to break the shackles.

Masood and Younis thus joined forces very early in the afternoon, and went about both scoring the runs and defending well, as the deck flattened out and Sri Lanka dearly missed their veteran spinner Rangana Herath.

The batsmen played each ball on its merits, and the deficit dwindled slowly but surely towards the more realistic 150-ish they would have wanted for day five. Masood's ton can off 172 balls, while Younis faced 165 for his century.

If the weather plays along, and Pakistan keep calm on day five, they could record a famous win and take the series, with this Test being the decider as it stands at one-all.

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