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Afghanistan fightback reduces Sri Lanka's lead to 42

Sri Lanka's Chamika Gunasekara avoids a bouncer during the third day of the one-off Test between Sri Lanka and Afghanistan (Ishara S. KODIKARA)
Sri Lanka's Chamika Gunasekara avoids a bouncer during the third day of the one-off Test between Sri Lanka and Afghanistan (Ishara S. KODIKARA)

A remarkable maiden Test hundred by Ibrahim Zadran helped Afghanistan recover in the one-off Test against Sri Lanka in Colombo, as the tourists ended day three on 199 for one on Sunday.

Afghanistan had to show fight in their second dig after being shot out for 198 in the first innings to concede a lead of 241.

Ibrahim went past his previous best Test score of 87 and then completed his maiden Test hundred in the last over of the day with a single to covers, leaving him unbeaten on 101.

It is only the fourth Test hundred by an Afghan.

The 22-year-old opening batsman was given two reprieves.

The first was on 39 when Prabath Jayasuriya put down a tough return catch, and then again on 63 when Nishan Madushka at short mid-off dropped a catch off Jayasuriya's bowling.

The wicket had flattened out but still the Afghan batters had to show application, and they put up a fine show as Sri Lanka struggled to find the breakthroughs.

It was a disciplined effort by the bowlers and Jayasuriya was required to bowl long spells, sending down 32 overs but without picking up a wicket.

A record 106-run stand for the first wicket between Ibrahim and Noor Ali Zadran set the platform for Afghanistan's second innings.

That improved on the 53-run stand between Ibrahim and Javed Ahmadi against West Indies in 2019.

After tea, Asitha Fernando tested the batters by reverse swinging the ball and dismissed Noor Ali for 47 when he trapped the debutant leg before wicket.

It was a much-needed breakthrough for Sri Lanka, having failed to pick up a wicket in the afternoon session.

Allrounder Rahmat Shah, the top scorer in the first innings, then joined Ibrahim and added an unbroken 93 runs for the second wicket. He was 46 not out.

Kasun Rajitha was drafted into the side after debutant fast bowler Chamika Gunasekara was hit on the helmet by a nasty Naveed Zadran delivery.

Sri Lanka earlier resumed on their overnight total of 410-6 and were bowled out for 439 as they lost their last four wickets for 12 runs.

str/pjm/pbt