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October 31, 2004
Close Sri Lanka 208 and 361 for 7 (Jayasuriya 107, Sangakkara 138, Kaneria 6-102) lead Pakistan 478 by 91 runs
Danish Kaneria persevered unflinchingly to throttle Sri Lanka's aspirations of saving the Test with a bowling display that gave Pakistan hope, and asked questions the batsmen had no answer to. Sri Lanka, after battling to overhaul Pakistan's lead, managed a small lead of their own, but with only three wickets in hand, staving off defeat will be difficult. Sri Lanka ended the day at 371 for 6, ahead of Pakistan by 94 runs.
Pakistan relied on Kaneria throughout the day. He delivered more overs than anyone else on this spinning track, and was rewarded with a haul of 6 for 102 for his persistence. The batsmen tried padding away balls, clueless about which way they were turning. They got away with this practice because the umpires were overcautious. Only Kaneria was afforded this respect by the batsmen. No other bowler looked likely to crack them. None had his range or his accuracy. The batsmen thrived when the others bowled, and wondered which way to go when he came on. Caught between smothering his spin and playing it late, they perished slowly but regularly. Sri Lanka had fought admirably for three sessions, but came undone in the fourth.
The fight had been put up by Sanath Jayasuriya (107) - who became Sri Lanka's highest scorer - and then Kumar Sangakkara, who scored 138. The rest could not score near as many, but their contributions were valuable for they consumed time, an element Pakistan could not afford to give away. Jayasuriya tried sweeping a delivery, and top-edged it to square leg to give Pakistan an early breakthrough. Then Mahela Jayawardene and Sangakkara played nervously initially, but recovered some composure until Jayawardene fell. Thilan Samaraweera was less edgy, but a lot slower than his mates, and he was chiefly responsible for a dry afternoon with his 130-ball innings of 22. Kaneria had him too (333 for 4).
Thereafter, wickets fell in a heap. Sangakkara went first, edging Naved-ul-Hasan to the wicketkeeper after a gritty hundred that had Pakistan worried. While he scored runs and stood firm, the others could play around him. He had been troubled by Kaneria, and was beaten often. To his credit, he shrugged off this dominance and asserted himself when the ball was right. Sangakkara sighted one early and carted Kaneria over midwicket. The next was pushed down the ground for four. Sri Lanka were nervous for him and themselves when he batted.
His removal meant Pakistan were comfortably on the road to victory. Jehan Mubarak drove at Kaneria and the ball ended in leg-slip's hands, and Romesh Kaluwitharana played one on to his stumps. A valiant fightback was all but over.
What's wrong with their cricket? Well, what isn't?