Pakistan's Nawaz relishing Test return with 'dream' five-wicket haul

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Pakistan all-rounder Mohammad Nawaz said Monday that his maiden five-wicket haul on return to Test cricket was a "dream" performance he aimed to repeat.

The 28-year-old Nawaz, who played just three Tests for Pakistan in 2016, impressed with his left-arm spin to dent the Sri Lankan top and middle-order in the first match in Galle.

He combined with leg-spinner Yasir Shah to reduce Sri Lanka to 267 for eight but the hosts hit back with Dinesh Chandimal's unbeaten 86 to lead by 333 at the end of the third day's play.

"It's every bowler's dream to get a five-for in Test cricket and the same goes for me," Nawaz told reporters.

"I am very happy and I will keep working hard and repeat this kind of performance again."

Nawaz made his debut across formats in 2016 but his five-day career came to a halt after just three Tests against West Indies in the United Arab Emirates.

His white-ball reputation has grown, with 19 one-day internationals and 30 Twenty20 matches for the national team, but he insists red-ball cricket is what excites him most.

"I kept on playing first-class cricket, obviously played a lot of white-ball international cricket but a Test opportunity didn't come my way," Nawaz said of his cricketing journey.

"Focus was to play red-ball cricket which makes you grow as a player. My 2022 red-ball season at home was good as I made over 700 runs and took 28-29 wickets.

"I'm happy to bowl well on my comeback and hoping to turn up with the bat as well."

Babar Azam's Pakistan will need to bowl out Sri Lanka, who were 329-9 at stumps, on the fourth day and then chase an already challenging-looking total.

But Nawaz remains confident of the Pakistan batting that fought back from 87-5 to just four runs short of Sri Lanka's 222 in the first innings.

"They have put up a good total, looking at the conditions, but it's not impossible," he said.

"As a batting unit if we get two-three good partnerships then it will be achievable I think."

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