Pakistan v Sri Lanka, 3rd Test, Sharjah, 2nd day November 4, 2011

Sri Lanka hold the edge on spinning track

Pakistan 35 for 2 trail Sri Lanka 413 (Sangakkara 144, Dilshan 92, Ajmal 4-132) by 378 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Sri Lanka had been clear winners of the first day, and though the scorecard suggested a more even second day, Sri Lanka still hold a big advantage over Pakistan given how much help the spinners are getting from the track. Pakistan were back in the game after grabbing four wickets in just over an hour's play, before Rangana Herath's swing-at-everything cameo pushed Sri Lanka past 400. The loss of both openers in the 20 overs before stumps further hurt Pakistan in front of a healthy holiday crowd in Sharjah.

Another day of run-accumulation had seemingly beckoned for Sri Lanka after the pitch proved benign on Thursday but none of the established middle-order batsmen provided the impetus - only 114 runs were scored in the first two sessions. Mahela Jayawardene wasn't at his fluent best before becoming the latest victim of an umpiring blunder. Jayawardene was given out lbw to a delivery from Junaid Khan that jagged in from short of a length, striking him on the thigh pad. The ball was going to head over the stumps, but the usually accurate Simon Taufel disagreed, much to Pakistan's relief.

Sangakkara remained his unflustered self, and though he too couldn't force the pace there weren't too many anxious moments either. His cap became sweat-stained as he soldiered on in an innings that spanned more than eight hours. He was beaten wafting outside off from successive deliveries from Umar Gul in the 97th over, after which he admonished himself for losing concentration. There were several effortless punches through cover but his only boundary of the day was a powerful lofted off drive off Saeed Ajmal.

Angelo Mathews also played a slow-and-steady innings, as he and Sangakkara hauled Sri Lanka to 300 for 3 an over before lunch. Mathews though was done in by an Abdur Rehman delivery that drifted in before spinning away and taking the edge.

After lunch, Pakistan got the big wicket of Sangakkara, as Ajmal got a shortish ball to turn sharply away, inducing a top-edge that gave Younis Khan his third catch of the innings. That left only newcomers Kaushal Silva and Kosala Kulasekara as the recognised batsmen remaining, with the Pakistan spinners posing plenty of questions with their variations. It was the big offbreak that accounted for Kulasekara as well, trapping him lbw, a dismissal which took Ajmal to the top of the Test-wickets list for this year.

With four men prowling around the bat, Silva needed 17 nervy deliveries to get off the mark, but he gritted his way through the entire session for an unbeaten 21. Like most batsmen, he too had trouble with Ajmal's doosra, surviving on 5 when a nick was put down by Adnan Akmal. It was mostly a subdued innings from him, except for the crunched boundary through cover which got him off the mark. The final of the over of the session proved unlucky for Sri Lanka as well, as Dhammika Prasad's resistance ended with him feathering Junaid Khan to the keeper.

Herath didn't adopt the safety-first approach of the rest. Early in his innings, he slapped Junaid past a lazy Mohammad Hafeez at point, and then slammed the ball over square leg for six. He motored along at nearly a run-a-ball to 34 before Silva top-edged a swipe to short fine leg, and last man Chanaka Welegedara was cleaned up by some spectacular reverse-swing from Gul.

Pakistan's batsmen had the challenge of batting out 20 overs after spending most of two days in the field. It became even more difficult for them as Prasad got the new ball to swerve in dramatically. It was the other quick, Welegedara, who made the breakthrough though, getting a thick edge from Hafeez that was superbly taken in the slip cordon by Jayawardene, flying to his right. There was more bad news for Pakistan as Taufeeq Umar was beaten by Herath before Silva took off the bails. That wicket, and the sharp spin Herath and Suraj Randiv extracted, prompted Pakistan to shut shop - only one run came off the final eight overs, suggesting a tough day ahead for them.

Siddarth Ravindran is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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