Pakistan v Sri Lanka, 3rd Test, Sharjah, 4th day November 6, 2011

Sri Lanka face battle to save series


Sri Lanka 413 and 164 for 5 (Paranavitana 66*, Sangakkara 51) lead Pakistan 340 (Younis Khan 122, Misbah 89, Azhar 53, Welegedara 5-87) by 237 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Sri Lanka remained ahead after another attritional day in the third Test in Sharjah, but not to the extent required if they are to be confident of squaring the series. They are now left hoping for another of the famous Pakistan collapses that gave them the series the last time these two sides faced off.

In the morning, a mix of old-school batting and innovation from Misbah-ul-Haq and butter-fingered fielding helped Pakistan frustrate Sri Lanka and cut into the first-innings deficit. After lunch, Sri Lanka needed quick runs to set up a declaration but, as in the rest of this match, the big hits proved elusive and the run-rate remained low. Some late Saeed Ajmal strikes even gave Pakistan an outside chance of winning the Test.

On Saturday, Sri Lanka were buoyed by some late blows, and perked up even more after striking twice early today. Chanaka Welegedara removed Abdur Rehman in the first over of the day, getting the batsman to nick to the slip cordon, where Mahela Jayawardene fumbled but the ball landed in Paranavitana's lap at first slip. Soon after, Umar Gul heaved a length ball to mid-off and Sri Lanka were eyeing an early end to the Pakistan innings.

That would have happened if wicketkeeper Kaushal Silva had held on to a regulation take after Misbah edged Rangana Herath early in the day. That was the easiest of the three lives Misbah had - Angelo Mathews flew goalkeeper-style at mid-off but couldn't latch on, and Tharanga Paranavitana put down a similarly difficult chance at square leg.

Misbah made the most of those opportunities. He may have scored at a rate deemed slow even by Test standards, but there were also several moves from him that wouldn't have been out of place in a limited-overs game: he kept shuffling around in his crease, especially against Herath, there was a reverse-sweep for four and a savage six over long-on.

He regularly declined singles to shield No. 10 Ajmal and, though there were some close lbw calls, the pair defied Sri Lanka for 18 precious overs - that didn't just reduce Sri Lanka's lead but ate into the time available to force a result. Misbah looked headed for his fourth Test century, but top-edged a slog-sweep off Suraj Randiv to fall for 89.The final pair couldn't last very long after that, with Welegedara removing Junaid Khan to wrap up the innings and complete his five-for.

Sri Lanka's reply got off to a horrible start as Tillakaratne Dilshan, the man most capable of providing them the early momentum, fell victim to Gul's knack of striking in the first over. Paranavitana, with only two half-centuries in his previous 15 innings, would have been dismissed by Gul for the fifth time in the series if Asad Shafiq had pouched a chance early on. He wasn't at ease against the spinners either, surviving several loud calls for lbw.

Kumar Sangakkara extended his excellent run in the series, becoming only the third Sri Lanka batsman to make 500 runs in a series, but he too began watchfully. It was only once the slow bowlers came on that he began to open up. Mohammad Hafeez was greeted with a lofted on-drive for four, before Sangakkara crashed sixes in successive overs to boost the dawdling run-rate. He completed a fluent half-century before his second soft dismissal of the match, chopping a short ball to the point fielder.

That dismissal prompted a bit more adventure from Paranavitana, who had crawled along to 30 off 111 deliveries, putting pressure on his partners. He slugged Ajmal over midwicket for six and followed that up with a glanced boundary as Sri Lanka had a productive six-over spell, going at nearly a run-a-ball.

Just as Sri Lanka seemed to finally be hitting the gear they needed to, Gul trapped Mahela Jayawardene lbw with an incutter. The conventional offbreak then brought Ajmal two wickets in an over - Angelo Mathews and Silva.

Paranavitana was unbeaten but has only the debutant Kosala Kulasekara and the tail for support, and Sri Lanka's lead is still not sufficiently enough to declare. Even if they manage a quick burst of runs on Monday and declare early, the pitch still isn't venomous enough for a bowling attack to run through a line-up in two-and-a-half sessions, especially one that is missing a specialist quick.

Siddarth Ravindran is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on November 7, 2011, 8:48 GMT

    Well, for the next tour of Bangladesh then England... Pakistan has to build a Strong Test team.....

    1>Hafeez 2>Asad Shafiq 3>Azhar 4>Younis 5> Yusuf 6>Misbah 7>Umar Akmal (wk) 8>Gul 9>Ajmal 10>Junaid 11>Wahab Riaz/ Abdur Rehman / Tanvir Ahmed / Aizaz Cheema...

    It can beat any test side but may be Wicket Keeper is not gud..

  • Sumal on November 7, 2011, 6:45 GMT

    SL Vs The rain Gods. Can these ever be separated? If SL plays, it will even rain in the Middle East...HaHaHa! Any country with a drought... all you have to do it arrange a series with SL. Rain is guaranteed.... ;)

  • Dummy4 on November 7, 2011, 5:23 GMT

    @shiva - dream on buddy - that's not happening :)

  • Lakmal on November 7, 2011, 5:07 GMT

    It's still 50-50 chance for Sri Lanka,but honestly I don't think they'll take10 wickets on the final day.But lots of positives are there for the Sri Lankans, Wela taking a 5-for ,and they proved still they can take 10 wickets without the legends.Maybe u r wrong mr.chappel.

  • Tom on November 7, 2011, 3:56 GMT

    Despite Loosing toss continuously and some catching and umpiring issues, Pakistan is clearly a better side. Only Because of Great Sanga SL still have some chance of saving the series otherwise series could have been wrapped up 3-0 by now. They might not be that highly talented side batting wise, but they are a bunch of fighting cricketers and they will surely fight to the very end to save or win this test.

  • Tom on November 7, 2011, 3:35 GMT

    @Shiva Kumar, Dude You should predict " India will win next Soccer World Cup" That'll make you more happy.

  • Dummy4 on November 7, 2011, 2:59 GMT

    I think draw test natch Beacuse run rate is very slow for 3 ininnings not good run rate so i hope this test match is draw

  • Dummy4 on November 7, 2011, 2:49 GMT

    Srilanka are 237 runs in the lead. I think that if they take half a session and get to 300 runs with about 70 overs left then there might actually be a chance for a pakistan victory. It all depends on Hafeez. If he gets going and scores 70+ then that would put pakistan in a very good position. But if he gets out early then pakistan have enough experiance to be able to block out the entire day, with the likes of azhar ali, younus khan and misbah all able to block for a long time.

  • Jawwad on November 7, 2011, 0:27 GMT

    If Misbah had scored any more runs and lead would not have been substantial, this game would certainly end in a draw. Was it deliberate? Give SL false sense of security which may enforce them scoring 30-40 quick runs and give Pak 75 overs and THAT my friend give Pak the option to either go for the win or draw to win the series. Mind you 1-0 series win will not move Pak up the ladder, a 2-0 series win will. In the end, I think super canny tactic by Misbah.

  • khurram on November 6, 2011, 22:43 GMT

    Sl didnt score that quickly & now 1 more critical factor. if they had declared overnight they could have a life line of new ball at end of 5th day but now if they play 8 overs they wont get 2nd ball. & more imp about 3rd umpire. that run out was shocker. 3rd umpire dont even know the rules?

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