Dinesh Chandimal's aggressive half-century put Sri Lanka in a strong position to push for victory on a placid pitch, but it remains to be seen if his dismissal at the stroke of tea will prompt a change in approach from the hosts. Misbah-ul-Haq declared immediately after Asad Shafiq reached his second Test century before lunch, and it seemed Pakistan had scored enough to challenge Sri Lanka. In their defence of 270, an all-out attack led by Junaid Khan was Pakistan's big hope of levelling the series, but with the pitch a contrast to days one and three, it was the batsmen who dictated the flow of the game.
Sri Lanka had the option of batting out time instead of pushing for a win, given their 1-0 lead, but Chandimal's naturally positive approach set the tone for the chase. Junaid and Umar Gul got a hint of movement with the new ball, and there were plays and misses. Tharanga Paranavitana reached out to a couple of wide deliveries, while Chandimal, against a round-the-wicket line from Junaid, was squared up by the away-going ball. His tendency to initially shuffle across and fall over gave Junaid a healthy chance of an lbw dismissal, but Chandimal middled the ball well. He slashed Gul through point, drove him down the ground and pulled him through square leg, all in the over before lunch.
Chandimal was largely cautious against spin, preferring to see off both Mohammad Hafeez and Saeed Ajmal, who only got the odd ball to turn, but was quick to seize on opportunities presented by the seamers. Despite the presence of a deep point, Junaid was thrashed twice through the cover region, also prompting the bowler to go back to bowling over the wicket. As the field spread out, he pulled short deliveries towards deep square leg, drove past mid-off and ensured a steady flow of singles and twos. Kumar Sangakkara gave him solid company in an unbeaten 88-run stand.
Paranavitana played some fluent drives through his preferred extra-cover region, but fell chasing deliveries outside off once too often, edging Junaid to second slip after being dropped the previous delivery. Sangakkara, on a pair, got going quickly, cracking an incoming delivery from Junaid through extra cover and cutting him past point. Fumbles, byes, overthrows, and singles were in supply, and Sri Lanka were going along smoothly, but Chandimal was keen to press on. After he'd launched Ajmal over mid-off for four, he tried repeated that feat in the over before tea, but failed to clear Shafiq, who held on to a sharp catch.
Shafiq, in the company of Adnan Akmal who kept Sri Lanka at bay despite a broken finger, gave Pakistan a fighting chance with his assured century. He batted calmly, his task made easier by a spread field. Though initially reluctant, he ultimately showed no hesitation in the turning the strike over to Akmal, who proved he was more than capable of surviving.
With a fielder in the deep in the V and two near the boundary square of the wicket, Shafiq comfortably worked the ball around for singles, twos and also dispatched a full toss from Dilhara Fernando for a boundary through midwicket. Akmal defended well, felt the pain when the ball hit the bat hard but stuck it out, playing spin with more ease. He even reverse-swept Rangana Herath for a four.
After the first hour, a message came out from the dressing room to step it up and Akmal repeated that shot, while Shafiq slog-swept Herath for four more. Amid a spate of singles through square leg, midwicket and on the off side, Shafiq also thrashed Thisara Perera through long-off and deep extra cover, before getting a top-edge to the fine-leg boundary. He brought up three-figures half an hour before lunch, but, a session later, Pakistan's position was far from secure.