The Sunday Leader

Sublime Sangakkara, late wickets put Lanka firmly in control

  • Sri LankavsPakistan– First Test atGalle 

By Dion Michael


Sangakkara - stranded on 199

A sublime innings from Kumar Sangakkara and a flurry of Pakistani wickets leftSri Lankafirmly in the driving seat at the end of an absorbing second day in the first test inGalle.

Sangakkara was left stranded on 199 – one run short of his 9th double century – after guidingSri Lankato a formidable 472. That total grew more daunting as a flurry of late wickets left Pakistan on a shaky 48 for 5 at the close on Saturday – 224 runs adrift of avoiding the follow on.

Sangakkara struck 18 fours and two sixes and batted nearly nine and a half hours to anchor his side’s innings.

WhenPakistanbatted, Nuwan Kulasekera trapped opener Taufeeq Umar lbw for 9 and then had Azher Ali caught behind by Jayawardene for a golden duck to leave then on a shaky 17 for 2.

Pakistangrafted their way to 43 beforeSri Lanka’s spinners grabbed three quick wickets in the space of 10 balls. Skipper Mohamed Hafeez was lbw to Suraj Randiv for 20, nightwatchman Saeed Ajmal fell first ball edging Randiv to Tharanga Paranavitharana and left arm spinner Rangana Herath then had Asad Shafiq (0) edging to keeper Jayawardena.

Yet the hosts did not have things all their way during the day as ace spinner Saeed Ajmal led a spirited fightback fromPakistanwho bounced back in the morning session after a dismal performance on the opening day.

Sri Lanka began the day from their overnight 300 for 2 with their most experienced pair Sangakkara (111) and skipper Mahela Jayawardena (55) set to resume a third wicket partnership which had already yielded 113 runs.

However, the pair found run making difficult against some disciplinedPakistanbowling and only 11 runs came off the first seven overs for the day. Jayawardena broke the shackles with a reverse sweep for four but he perished just two balls later attempting a more ungainly slog sweep and being bowled by Ajmal.

Jayawardena (62) had added only seven to his overnight score and his stand with Sangakkara had added 128 for the third wicket.

The next man in was Thilan Samaraweera who has been a thorn in the Pakistan side with his obdurate batting however he did not last long this time. After making just six he was deceived by a flighted delivery from Ajmal and was stumped by wicketkeeper Adnan Akmal.

Lanka’s vice captain Angelo Mathews strode out to loud cheers from the home crowd after his one-day heroics against the same side last week. The man who had played a mature match winning innings in that game was out for a golden duck to perhaps the worst ball bowled by Ajmal all day. Mathews got a wide delivery which he chose to hit straight back to the bowler who took the catch gleefully.

The wicket meant that Ajmal had grabbed all five wickets to fall and from 300 for 2,Sri Lankahad slid to 335 for 5 andPakistanwere now just one wicket away from the tail and a chance of dismissing the hosts relatively cheaply.

At the other end, Sangakkara continued on his way grafting his runs and occasionally increasing the momentum with some exquisite strokeplay.

He found a good ally in wicketkeeper Prasanna Jayawardene who once again underlined his all round value to the side with a typically obdurate innings and helped Sangakkara add 80 runs for the sixth wicket which took the hosts passed the 400 run mark.

The stand was ended when Jayawardene was caught by wicketkepper Akmal off Mohamed Hafeez for 48.

Suraj Randiv (8) and Nuwan Kulasekara (0) both fell cheaply – although the latter was unlucky to be adjudged caught off his pad – and Sangakkara began playing with a little more urgency and seemed determined to ensureSri Lankahad a good total to avoid having to bat again in the game.

Rangana Herath hung around for 12 balls without scoring but helped add 16 runs for the ninth wicket before he was run out responding to an almost suicidal call from Sangakkara.

Meanwhile Sangakkara was approaching his double century and had reached 199 after adding another 17 runs with last man Nuwan Pradeep who was then bowled by Hafeez for a duck to leave the star batsman stranded on 199.

Sangakkara had the consolation though that he was not the first batsman to record the feat as Andy Flower the former Zimbawe player – and presentEnglandcoach – suffered the same fate againstSouth Africain 2001.



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