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The Report by Abhishek Purohit
August 9, 2014
Pakistan 451 and 4 for 1 trail Sri Lanka 533 for 9 dec (Sangakkara 221, Mathews 91, Silva 64, Ajmal 5-166) by 78 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Kumar Sangakkara continued to torment Pakistan with his tenth double-century that took him past Brian Lara and put him only behind Don Bradman's 12. Sri Lanka began the day 199 runs behind but Sangakkara and Angelo Mathews wiped off the deficit with a 181-run partnership for the fourth wicket.
Mathews fell just before tea for the fifth time in the nineties, the last three of which have all been against Pakistan, and all 91s. But Sangakkara carried on after equaling Bradman for 18 scores of 150-plus and ensured Sri Lanka had a healthy lead before they declared to leave Pakistan's tired batsmen 20 minutes to survive till stumps.
Sri Lanka had almost the perfect finish to the day when Khurram Manzoor nicked Rangana Herath behind. After conceding 451 in the first innings, they kept Pakistan in the field for six sessions, and now have the chance to put the visiting batsmen under serious pressure on the final day.
Pakistan did not help themselves by dropping Sangakkara first ball in the morning off Junaid Khan, and then on 168 off Saeed Ajmal. They did take out Mahela Jayawardene with the fourth ball of the day, but it was all Sri Lanka after that on a largely unresponsive pitch.
The first over of the day began with immense promise for Pakistan. The second new ball was available at the start and Junaid had Sangakkara driving the first delivery straight to Abdur Rehman at point, only for it to go through his hands. Junaid had Jayawardene edging the second past the cordon and beat him with the third. The fourth moved back to hit the pad, and Pakistan reviewed successfully against umpire Ian Gould's decision, replays showing the ball hitting the stumps near the top.
The slight movement that had brought the wicket disappeared soon and the drop only made Sangakkara concentrate harder. Unless the ball was really full or short, he was not going for it. He was alert enough into his fifth session of batting to keep working singles and twos regularly. At the other end was a man whose batting average as captain gets more unbelievable by the day.
Mathews calmly eased Junaid through extra cover to start off. Saeed Ajmal found plenty of slow turn and bounce at times, but his good length allowed Mathews to go right back and either hit him through off or work him to leg. A few did pop up off Mathews' pad, but they could not snare the inside edge.
Mohammad Talha lacked Junaid's discipline and even as he beat the batsmen now and then, he also did not make them play much. Talha tried the short ball against Mathews after lunch, and did have him top-edging a pull, only for the ball to sail over long leg.
Again, Rehman was used much less than Ajmal was, and again, he was less penetrative. Pakistan were also poor in the field, unable to cut out a few boundaries and singles. With no pressure exerted by either bowlers or fielders, Sri Lanka added 111 in 31 overs in the second session, and 84 in 23.1 after tea.
Just a couple of overs before tea, Ajmal had Mathews edging a doosra, and Younis Khan, who had put down Sangakkara, did not miss this time at slip. Ajmal now toyed with Kithuruwan Vithanage, beating him with doosras and offbreaks. He ended the session by ripping one past Sangakkara's outside edge, and consumed Vithanage, Niroshan Dickwella and Dilruwan Perera soon after the interval. Ajmal had waited 46.2 overs for a wicket, the longest he has ever had to; he would pick up five in just under 13 overs. It was his most expensive five-for, at 166 runs.
Sangakkara was still not done. He had a nervy moment or two on 199 before he punched Ajmal to point to bring up the double. With wickets falling around him, he started stepping out to loft the spinners for boundaries. He eventually charged Rehman and missed to be stumped off his 425th delivery. Dhammika Prasad connected a few blows to swell the lead to 82, a figure that could appear much larger for Pakistan if Sri Lanka are able to strike early on the fifth morning.
Abhishek Purohit is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfoFeeds: Abhishek Purohit
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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After the tragedy of Phillip Hughes' death, this match showed that cricket and life will continue to go on. This time Test cricket dug in and got through to tea.
Turning your back on a system that the whole cricketing world wants a discussion on, refusing to discuss it because it is not 100%, is not good enough