Sri Lanka Look For Long Awaited Series Win
- Pakistan vs SL Third Test at Pallekele – Preview
Pakistanwill look to denySri Lankaa long-awaited series victory, when they take on the hosts in the third and final Test in Pallekele from Sunday.
Sri Lanka, who won the first Test in Galle and drew the second in Colombo, have their best chance of winning their first series in three years since defeating New Zealand 2-0 at home in 2009.
Pakistan have been boosted by a impressive display with both bat and ball in the rain-hit second Test, on a typically placid wicket at the Sinhalese Sports Club (SSC) and must be confidently aiming for a series-levelling win to spoil Sri Lanka’s party.
“If the weather had not intervened we could have pushed for a result, but everyone is encouraged by the way we played the second Test.” saidPakistancaptain Misbah-ul Haq.
“Hopefully we can repeat that performance in the final Test and draw the series.”
After Sri Lanka invited Pakistan to take first lease of the wicket the latter celebrated their good fortune with a monumental 551-6 with both Mohammad Hafeez (196) and Azhar Ali (157) registering their career best scores..
Pakistanthen dismissed the hosts for 391, grabbing the last five wickets for 21 runs, after centuries from Kumar Sangakkara and Tillakaratne Dilshan had liftedSri Lankato a comfortable 236-1.
Young left-arm seamer Junaid Khan claimed a five-wicket haul on a pitch that offered him no help, and was deservedly named the man of the match in the batsmen-dominated Test. But there was no time to force a result, after bad weather allowed just 71 of the stipulated 180 overs to be bowled on the second and third days.
Pakistanhad enjoyed an impressive run before the current series, winning seven of their last nine Tests, including a brilliant 3-0 whitewash of top-rankedEnglandearlier this year. However the tourists first task must be to find a way to remove Sangakkara cheaply, if they are to win the final Test.
The elegant left-hander made 199 not out in the first Test and 192 in the second, toying with the Pakistani attack that included prolific spinners Saeed Ajmal and Abdur Rehman.
Sangakkara’s disappointment at missing out on two double-centuries in successive matches may have been compensated by the news that he has regained the number one spot in the official rankings for Test batsmen.
Sangakkara, who first shot to the top of the rankings in December 2007 and then again in November last year, had slipped to number two behind Shivnarine Chanderpaul of theWest Indiesin March.
However Sri Lanka must still be concerned about the vulnerability of their batting in the series with only Sangakkara and Dilshan performing with the kind of consistency required at this level.
Middle-order batsman Thilan Samaraweera has managed just 21 runs in the two games, while opener Tharanga Paranavitana and skipper Mahela Jayawardene have struggled to stamp their authority.
Sri Lankamay also look for a new-ball partner for Nuwan Kulasekara, after Nuwan Pradeep claimed just one wicket for 235 runs in the two Tests. Fast bowler Dilhara Fernando and all rounder Thisara Perera are the front runners to replace Prasad in the final eleven.
The Pallekele International Stadium, built in 2009 on the outskirts of the hill town ofKandy, has hosted two drawn Tests thus far – both of which were interrupted by bad weather.
Light rain has been forecast for next week, but that should not prevent a keen contest between bat and ball.l.