Pakistan’s tail offered no resistance at all, but with Danish Kaneria at the forefront of a superb bowling performance, they still managed a 66-run first-innings lead. By stumps on the second day at the SSC, Pakistan had lost Khurram Manzoor, playing on to Rangana Herath, while adding 16. Sri Lanka’s 233 was largely down to a classy 79 from Mahela Jayawardene and attacking cameos from Kumar Sangakkara (45) and Tillakaratne Dilshan (44), and their plight might have been worse if not for some largesse from the Pakistan fielders.
Jayawardene continued his love affair with the ground where he had four successive Test hundreds - it was his 14th fifty-plus score here, a record for a batsman at any venue - but with Pakistan’s slow bowlers bowling beautifully, it was a real tussle for supremacy after lunch. Jayawaredene anchored the innings and a partnership of 71 with Angelo Mathews allowed Sri Lanka to recover from the depths of 82 for 4.
Mathews counterattacked from the outset, but he had made just 12 when Kamral Akmal put him down off Saeed Ajmal’s bowling. He drove powerfully down the ground and square of the wicket as Sri Lanka recovered from the loss of Thilan Samaraweera, undone by an offbreak that turned prodigiously. The star of the show was Jayawardene though. Whether it was driving down the ground, sweeping fine, or clipping precisely through midwicket, he played with all the confidence of a man who knows the venue inside-out.
Sri Lanka had lost both openers early, but it was the wicket of Sangakkara just before lunch that tilted the scales in Pakistan’s favour. Sangakkara had been reprieved twice earlier, and had taken just 56 balls for his 45 against bowling that could best be described as erratic.
Twice, Manzoor could have had him off Mohammad Aamer’s bowling. The first chance went to his at face-height at gully, while the second brushed his outstretched fingertips and went for four. The first reprieve was especially costly, with Pakistan right on top of proceedings. Younis Khan had just brought himself on to bowl the sixth over, and struck with his second delivery as Tharanga Paranavitana misjudged one that swung in from round the wicket.
Malinda Warnapura had lasted just one ball, playing a terrible shot across the line to an Umar Gul delivery that darted back in. But Sangakkara was in fine touch from the moment he arrived, clipping wayward deliveries through midwicket and stroking the ball beautifully down the ground. There was plenty of aggression, and a bit of lip, from both Aamer and Gul, and even Younis had a frustrated shy at the stumps with Sangakkara taking guard several feet outside the crease.
On the stroke of lunch, with Jayawardene also threatening to find his groove, Pakistan had much to ponder. But then Ajmal struck with the final ball of his second over, though there was considerable doubt over whether the ball had pitched in line before striking Sangakkara’s pad.
The end of the Pakistan innings had been swift, in keeping with the collapses that had cost them the series. Kaneria went leg before to Nuwan Kulasekara and both Akmal and Ajmal choppped deliveries back on to leave Thilan Thushara with figures of 5 for 83.
Thushara was to play a part later too after Kaneria, recalled after sitting out the first two Tests, had hauled Pakistan back into the game with a magnificent spell. After being treated for cramps, Jayawardene misread a straighter one that crashed into his stumps. Chaminda Vaas had been trapped leg before minutes earlier, and Dilshan should have followed too without scoring, but Ian Gould failed to spot a gloved paddle-sweep to backward short leg.
Kulasekara edged Saeed Ajmal to slip and Herath was given out leg before to Kaneria, before a 29-run partnership between Dilshan and Thushara held up Pakistan. Dilshan, who had come in at No.8 after sustaining a finger injury on the opening day, smashed sixes off Kaneria and Umar Gul and protected the tail-end batsmen by rotating the strike.
It took a freakish incident for his defiance to end. Dilshan top-edged a sweep, and the ball sneaked through the helmet grille to cut his eyebrow. Soon after, he went for a cut and Akmal managed to hold on to leave Kaneria with 5 for 62. On a pitch where the ball was starting to turn sharply, it could yet be a winning contibution.
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Post InfoThis entry was posted on Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009 and is filed under Cricket, General.
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