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November 4, 2011
Kumar Sangakkara, the Sri Lanka batsman, has said the pitch in Sharjah is still decent for batting though it is on the slow side. After the first day of the Test between Pakistan and Sri Lanka had seen just two wickets fall, ten batsmen were dismissed on the second, and by the evening there was plenty of turn available to Sri Lanka's spinners. Sangakkara, though, said the track was still "batting friendly" and Sri Lanka would be aiming to restrict Pakistan to less than 250.
"The pitch is still batting friendly," Sangakkara said. "It was a bit slow on the first two days and it will probably be the same on Saturday. It's not the easiest wicket to play on, so it would be good if we can restrict them to less than 250."
Sri Lanka managed to get to 413 in their first-innings, thanks largely to Sangakkara's 144, and will be looking for a big first-innings lead in order to push for a win and square the series 1-1. Sangakkara went past 9,000 Test runs during his innings but said he was disappointed to get out after lunch as Sri Lanka would have been able to score faster had he stayed at the wicket. They were 300 for 4 at the end of the first session of the second day and scored 113 runs in 40 overs after that break. "It was disappointing to get out because at that stage if I had waited for a few more overs, we would have pushed on quite hard perhaps when we got closer to tea," Sangakkara said.
Pakistan came in to this Test 1-0 up and having been clearly the better side over the first two Tests. However, after a difficult period at the end of the day - they scored just one run in the last eight overs - they are under pressure in this Test. Saeed Ajmal, who finished with figures of 4 for 132 in the first innings, said he expected the wicket to turn on the last two days and therefore Saturday was an important day for the batsmen to perform on.
"We must score a big total in the first innings because on the last two days the wicket is bound to turn," Ajmal said. "The way they batted on the first day they could have scored over 500 runs. Today we bowled very well and restricted them to just around 400. Now we need to bat and get a good score to put them under pressure."
Ajmal became the leading wicket-taker in Tests in 2011 on Friday, and led Pakistan's fightback, which saw them take Sri Lanka's last eight wickets for 152 runs. Ajmal, like Sangakkara, also said the pitch was still favouring the batsmen and bowlers needed to be disciplined to be successful. "We bowled with great discipline and that is why we got wickets today. The pitch is still a batting track, but if you can bowl with discipline you can get wickets here.
"What we did today was to stop runs in the first and second sessions and in the process got wickets. I'm very happy with four wickets because on the first day I bowled the whole day and got only one wicket, so I am delighted to get three more wickets today."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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