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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Sachin on November 5, 2011, 8:46 GMT

    At present it looks like Pakistan will sucessfully draw this test and body language of Sri lankan players while batting showed that they dont wanted to win and were playing just for draw, there run-rate shows that. Sanga is so selfish as he would have keep for match or two if Prassanas is injured and if they want to make there batting dept strong. I will recommend you guys (Sri lankan Selctors) for sake of team make sanga too keep for 2years and bring Prasssana back because at this stage they should play chandimal and thirmanne in playing Xi. Has they will have 3-4 years of experience and some runs under there belt when Dilshan, Mahela and Sanga starts to phase out My Batting Order: Thirmmane, Dilshan, Chandimal, Mahela, Sanga, Samerverra, Mattews, Randiv, Eranga, Welgedara, Mendis. and than slowly slowly inject new players. i Know most of them will be not agree with me as sanga as keeping but for sake of country he has as to do this then slowly slowly bring new players.

  • Bhagya on November 5, 2011, 3:02 GMT

    @S3liteindia :::No mate.I am not talking about Para.When you see a player you can see whether he has the talent or not.According to me Para has not no talent.He doesn't have the right mind set either.He should be dropped.But I think we have to be patient about Thrimanne, Chandimal,Kaushal Silva and Angelo. These guys need to play around Sanga and Mahela.They will gain experience and they will come good one day.

  • Dummy4 on November 5, 2011, 2:33 GMT

    Mr. @SuperMan_Angelo when Sangakkara first came to the side his batting and keeping skills were brilliant for a newcomer except he had difficulties picking up Murali. he scored consistently and EARNED the place he was given!!! (a number of 70+ scores during an ODI series as i remember)

    No one had to give him chances and wait for him to perform because he did from his first outing. Problem with the new lot today is their performances are way below par no matter how many chances they get and that's a matter to worry about !!!

  • syed on November 5, 2011, 2:22 GMT

    @Stark62 .... the comments section was not showing up in "Chrome" browser earlier today. Just to experiment, I loaded the same page in Firefox and I could see it. I have noticed this issue with other websites as well. Just an fyi.

  • Dummy4 on November 4, 2011, 23:49 GMT

    Well, there could be some fitness issue otherwise Hafeez must have bowled as he did in last two tests. It is ridiculous to link this to some problems in between Misbah and Hafeez. As regards the match situation, I can't see but a draw from here. SL missed a point here by going too slow. They could have justified their slowness if they would have made something 500+ but 400 at 2.5 per over is not acceptable while you direly need a win. Pakistan might fail once but not twice on this flat track. They will play for draw.

  • Dummy4 on November 4, 2011, 22:54 GMT

    Near the end of the first day, Pakistan still had smiles on their face. It seeming like since they have the upper hand in the series they are not being as fully competitive as they can be. They did manage to get us for 413 which means my previous perception on the team after the first day is questionable. However, This pakistan team is so impressive, But Im really glad we got the openers out on the second day, or else this match would have a highly improbable chance of a result. Back to pakistans bowling, What are they saying with giving hafeez one over? and they deeply need an all rounder fast bowler in their ranks, possibly even a recall of razzaq, so they have can 3 seam options instead of tiring Junaid and Gul so much. This team is looking really formidable, and If us Lankans are able to get them all out 3rd day for less than 350 (hopefully 300), we really have a chance of winning this match. Gatta love test cricket. Kudos to Sanga for holding us down again.

  • Sai on November 4, 2011, 22:13 GMT

    @SuperMan_Angelo - Agreed buddy, but if you are talking about youngsters like Paranavitana, then no no no. He has got far too many chances to play for SL, he keeps on failing and when he does score, he scores at a strike rate of around 35. I don't know why SL selectors keep choosing him, he is definitely not a talent, more of a domestic club player. Dinesh Chandimal, on the other hand, is a great talent and I have no clue and I'm sure SL selectors don't have a reason as to why they didn't play him this whole series. If there is no place for him to bat the reason, then remove Paranavitana, make Dilshan open which is his strength, and make Chandimal open. I'm sure he'll do a great job. Sanga played a great innings today, and Dilshan proved he is a great opener as always.

  • Bhagya on November 4, 2011, 18:41 GMT

    @ Pradeep Wickrama:: Hey buddy,,,when Sanga came to the national side most of the fans in Sri Lanka didn't like him.His keeping was horrible,his batting was not that great.But he got more and more chances.Look at him right now.He is one of the best. So lets be patient with these guys. @Facebook User::Let's be patient buddy..

  • Stark on November 4, 2011, 17:58 GMT

    Why are we all of a sudden allowed to comment on the main article when, SL have the upper hand?!?!

    Why couldn't we post a comment when Pak were dominating?

  • Hassan on November 4, 2011, 17:18 GMT

    hafeez is in the team to bat his bowling is a plus. This is a test team. No need for bits and pieces players!

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