Sri Lanka v Pakistan, 3rd Test, Pallekele, 3rd day July 10, 2012

Attacking Perera gives Sri Lanka control


Pakistan 226 and 27 for 1 (Hafeez 8*, Azhar 6*) trail Sri Lanka 337 (Paranavitana 75, Perera 75, Samaraweera 73, Junaid 5-70) by 84 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Sri Lanka took a significant step in their attempt to thwart Pakistan from levelling this rain-affected series, through a combination of dogged batting on a testing pitch, a fair amount of luck, and aggression. Pakistan contributed much to that luck through sloppy fielding, when an urgent quest for wickets was the need of the hour after a rained-out second day.

A century-stand between Tharanga Paranavitana and Thilan Samaraweera included a period of survival during a hostile morning spell from Pakistan's seamers, as the two overcame their lean runs in this series. Thisara Perera's counterattack against the second new ball restored a sense of security for Sri Lanka - it stretched their lead to 111 - and gave them a strong opportunity to force a win.

Pakistan's two crucial lapses in the field occurred in the slips, from two unlikely candidates. Younis Khan spilled a straightforward chance at second slip when Samaraweera was on 49 - that partnership with Paranavitana was to last another 38 runs and 16.1 overs - and Misbah-ul-Haq dropped a simple catch off Perera, on just 22. Umar Gul was the aggrieved bowler on both occasions, and was left dispirited when the batsman his captain reprieved returned the favour with what could be a game-changing onslaught.

Gul bowled one half of Pakistan's incisive, though wicketless, morning spell; from the other end Junaid Khan threatened, probed and eventually picked up his third five-for - all of them have come against Sri Lanka.

In conditions where the advantage to fast bowlers was not as pronounced as on the first day, but with enough swing and movement to trouble the batsmen, Junaid's battle against Samaraweera was exciting to watch. Junaid, with his round-the-wicket angle, tried hard to beat Samaraweera through the gate by moving it back in, but the batsman countered that by stepping outside the line and moving forward. He was beaten on occasion and struck high on the pads once, but the ploy was largely effective - except when Junaid slipped in the away-going delivery after angling it in, confounding the batsman completely.

Paranavitana, possibly competing for his place in the side, needed the luck he got. He survived a close call for lbw against Gul on the first day, and was in for a stern test from the same bowler on the third. A sharp, pacy, incoming short delivery rapped him on the back of the bat and flew over the slips, and a couple of attempted drives to initiate a counter-attack went past the edge, immediately prompting his senior partner to calm him down.

Gradually, though, the pair found their feet, painstakingly extending their partnership. Paranavitana finally managed to drive Gul through cover, Samaraweera played Junaid down the ground and the two were far more comfortable when Mohammad Sami and Ajmal were called on to bowl. Though he got a couple of doosras past the edge, Ajmal struggled to turn his conventional offbreak, often met with a full face from the batsmen. Sami was quick, but bowled short and provided too much width. Paranavitana smashed Younis Khan through point to reach his half-century, and appeared a more confident player after lunch, driving Junaid and Gul elegantly through cover for boundaries.

It was after a brief rain interruption that Ajmal, ineffective up to that point, went round the wicket and got a ball to turn in from off stump. Samaraweera played forward, was beaten and trapped in front. A loose shot from Angelo Mathews off a wide ball from Junaid had him caught at gully, before Paranavitana dragged on a short ball from Ajmal three overs later. Gul struck first ball with the second new ball to remove Prasanna Jayawardene. Sri Lanka led by 10 at that point with seven down, but their depth in batting ensured they added 101 more.

Nuwan Kulasekara is a capable batsman and thrashed Gul twice through the covers, one an imperious drive on bended knee. As Gul bowled length, Perera - also a beneficiary of a difficult, dropped return catch and a missed run out - launched him through mid-off and cover for fours before dispatching a slower one over the midwicket for six in the same over. Junaid returned to dismiss Kulasekara - by which time the stand with Perera was worth 84 - but Perera signed off by swinging Ajmal for two big sixes over midwicket and long-on before becoming Junaid's fifth victim.

A rare error from umpire Simon Taufel didn't help Pakistan's case when they came out to bat, as Taufeeq Umar was given out lbw to a delivery that pitched outside leg stump. It capped a day that began with much promise for Pakistan in helpful conditions, but their own shortcomings and a determined opposition left them targeting, at least for a good part of the fourth day, survival and not a push for victory.

Siddhartha Talya is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on July 11, 2012, 5:59 GMT

    Ok if pak bat well today so tomorow will be rain if SL have some chance to win their will be no rain around the corner as their was never rain in SL i think its is PAk and misbah destiny like that

  • Dummy4 on July 11, 2012, 3:25 GMT

    @deepak_123... Mate Saeed Ajmal is way better spinner than Ashwin... He is world class spinner..... you say he is bad against good spin players in spin friendly conditions.. But remember by friend he is way better than Ahwin

  • chanaka on July 11, 2012, 3:19 GMT

    Sri lanka has a very good chance to win this match, if they will get 2 or 3 wickets in first session. lankans should play to win this match. But all pressure on pak players. They have 2 options. One is trying to get quick runs and get a lead 300 & give chance lankans in final day. second one is occupying the crease without giving more wickets and trying to survive this match. But my opinion is trying to play natural cricket until tea time. If they will be able to reach 225 or 250 with six or seven wickets hand, then they can increase the rate and try to get as much as they possible in last session. Now this pitch is more suitable for batsman. Therefore my final decision is this match will be drawn.

  • Narayan on July 11, 2012, 2:14 GMT

    interesting times ahead for both teams, at the start of the series anyone would have thought it is going to be easy pickings to beat lanka. But lanka have proven their never say die attitude and continue to fight. It has been a great series!

  • Rishi on July 11, 2012, 1:50 GMT

    In all fairness, this match is going SL way and from here only one team can win and that is SL. If PAK can bat and attains a lead of 200+ ( means PAK has to make 300+ runs in their 2nd innings), then they can draw the match, but PAK is most likely going to loose the series, either way. Nonetheless, this match is going to have a tight finish. Good luck to both teams.

  • Prashan on July 11, 2012, 1:06 GMT

    see what cricinfo says about Paranavithana's dismissal. Umar Gul to Paranavitana, no run, it's a shout a minute here. And isn't Para lucky to survive? Short of a length, no extra bounce, swinging in from off, caught on the back foot, on the crease. Saved by height, I suppose

  • Prashan on July 11, 2012, 1:05 GMT

    @everyone saying Paranavithana was out LBW on 6, remember height was an issue and less than half the ball may have hit the stumps

  • Prashan on July 11, 2012, 1:03 GMT

    @getsetgopk, we had to play without DRS in the tests in UAE last year. @s.jagernath, yes then Tendulkar has benefited lots of times from umpires not giving him out when LBW. Tell your BCCI to ok DRS and then ICC will make it mandatory.

  • Lalith on July 11, 2012, 0:51 GMT

    @yorkslanka I do agree with u. This match is still in balance. It is 3 way SL PAK and Rain. Anyone can win.

  • Randhira on July 11, 2012, 0:45 GMT

    Hey ! Pakistanis don't doubt Sri Lankan teams spirit and performance out there. Now every body talks about umpire mistakes. What ever said and done, even though it pitched outside the leg it was definitely hitting the stumps. True that there is a rule in cricket as such but it is not the first time in the series. Then what about Mahelas LBW decision. You should not blame the umpires but should blame Pakistani fielding for dropping so many simple chances. Eg - Catches dropped by Younis and Misbah.I think Sri Lankan team deserved this lead for their fighting spirit. Well played Thisara and Kulasekera.

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