Set a massive 492 for victory, or more realistically 150 overs to survive, Sri Lanka made steady progress to 183 for 3 by the end of the penultimate day’s play. Kumar Sangakkara was still there, but with Mahela Jayawardene experiencing a very rare SSC failure and the injured Tillakaratne Dilshan unlikely to bat, Sri Lanka were up against it. Danish Kaneria was once again the standout bowler, though one of his wickets was a gift from Ian Gould.
Malinda Warnapura and Tharanga Paranavitana had progressed with few alarms to 83 when a Kaneria delivery turned sharply and brushed Warnapura’s pad on its way to leg slip. But as soon as the fielders went up, so did Gould’s finger, and a clearly unhappy Warnapura trudged off. Sangakkara though was in no mood to budge, and he and Paranavitana turned the strike over cleverly, striking the odd loose balls crisply into the gaps.
As the partnership grew and the batsmen gained in confidence, Younis Khan, who had bowled himself earlier in the innings, turned to his predecessor as captain. And Shoaib Malik, who had proceeded to 134 earlier in the day, duly delivered, having Paranavitana smartly caught by Fawad Alam at short leg. When Kaneria then produced a peach of a delivery to kiss the outer edge of Jayawardene’s bat, Sri Lanka were reeling, but the experience of Thilan Samaraweera was the perfect foil for Sangakkara as the final half hour was successfully negotiated to leave the side needing 309 on the final day. Along the way, Sangakkara also went past 7000 runs, only the second Sri Lankan to do so and in only his 83rd Test.
Pakistan’s second innings had extended three overs after lunch, and with even Mohammad Aamer thwacking sixes on a placid pitch, Younis called them in with 425 on the board. Having established a stranglehold on the game on the third day, Pakistan put the boot in during the first session, with Umar Gul the star of the show. Only this time, it was with the bat.
Trailing by 366 when play resumed, Sri Lanka started poorly, with both Kamran Akmal and Malik taking fours from Thilan Thushara’s opening over. The partnership had swelled to 133 by the time Nuwan Kulasekara gave Sri Lanka the breakthrough, getting some late movement to catch the outer edge of Akmal’s bat as he went for the expansive drive, handing Jayawardene a sharp catch to his right at slip.
They couldn’t build on that though. Thushara got Malik to slash hard at one, but Sangakkara’s despairing dive only resulted in the ball being tipped away for two runs. The sloppiness didn’t end there though. Paranavitana put down a high catch at slip after Gul had ducked a bouncer with his bat positioned like a periscope, and then Sangakkara fluffed a stumping with Gul way down the track.
Malik was moving along steadily, but his progress was halted by a nasty blow to the side of the eye, after an attempted pull off Thushara sneaked through the helmet grille off the top edge. In the next over though, there was an element of retribution, as a short ball was emphatically pulled for four.
Chaminda Vaas came on to great cheers from the sparse crowd, but it had no impact on the proceedings, with Gul freeing his arms to deposit one into the grassy banks behind midwicket. They had added 52 when Malik finally departed, thumping Rangana Herath to long-off, where Suranga Lakmal, the substitute fielder, took a fine diving catch.
Gul though was in rampant mood, sweeping Herath for four and then top-edging Vaas for another, in between swiping two massive sixes over midwicket. Herath had the last word though, with another big heave smartly taken by Vaas running in from long leg. When Kaneria holed out soon after, he had five for the innings, but it was unlikely to be anything more than a consolation in a match that Pakistan had controlled from the opening session.
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Post InfoThis entry was posted on Thursday, July 23rd, 2009 and is filed under Cricket, General.
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