1st Test

Sri Lanka v Pakistan, 2012

Sa'adi Thawfeeq

At Galle, June 22-25, 2012. Sri Lanka won by 209 runs.
Toss: Sri Lanka. Test debut: Mohammad Ayub.


Kumar Sangakkara pulls the ball, Sri Lanka v Pakistan, 1st Test, Galle, 1st day, June 22, 2012
Kumar Sangakkara narrowly missed his ninth double-century but Sri Lanka won comfortably © Getty Images
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Sri Lanka had won only two of their previous 19 Tests, but this one they controlled from the start. Mahela Jayawardene was criticised in some quarters for not enforcing the follow-on after they had dismissed Pakistan for 100 but, weighing up the threat of rain against the desire to keep his bowlers fresh, he preferred to bat again. It allowed Sri Lanka to shut Pakistan out of the match once and for all, even if they put up an improved performance in the second innings.

Sri Lanka's two spinners, Herath and Randiv, bore the brunt of what was once Muttiah Muralitharan's workload, taking 12 wickets between them in 102.3 overs, while Kulasekara, coming in at a gentler lick than either the injured Chanaka Welagedara or the retired Chaminda Vaas, helped their cause by providing early breakthroughs.

There had been much discussion beforehand about the quickening pace of Sri Lankan pitches. This one had a helpful covering of grass, but it seemed business as usual as Dilshan and Sangakkara accumulated centuries and rocketed Sri Lanka to 300 for two on the first day. Dilshan produced an unusually refined display to achieve his first Test hundred at home since August 2009.

On the second evening, Sangakkara was the victim of a scoreboard error that deprived him of the chance to join Brian Lara on nine Test double-centuries, behind only Don Bradman. As Sri Lanka went into the 153rd over nine wickets down, the board had Sangakkara on 194; in fact, he had 193. Thinking he was one big hit away, he slogged Saeed Ajmal for six over deep midwicket and began to celebrate, only to be made aware by his team-mates on the balcony that he was still one short. It took a while for Sangakkara to absorb the embarrassment and, when he failed to take a single off the next ball - the last of the over - No. 11 Pradeep Fernando was left to face Mohammad Hafeez. He negotiated one delivery before he was castled, to the mortification of Sangakkara, the second batsman in Test history to be stranded unbeaten on 199, after Zimbabwe's Andy Flower, against South Africa at Harare 11 years earlier. Sangakkara was livid when he returned to the pavilion, and his team-mates left him alone to recover, and he was ten minutes late taking the field.

Despite his initial anger, Sangakkara later reflected: "It's strange how you change as a player. When you're young, you're angry and you throw the bat in the dressing-room. Now, when you take a breather, you realise there are bigger things than getting out or not out on 199. As long as you put everything in perspective, you'll be fine." He dedicated the innings to his father, whose birthday it was.

Sangakkara's unnecessary scramble only came about because of a fierce fightback by Pakistan's bowlers on the second day, when they mopped up the last five wickets for 57. Batting against spin had suddenly become a more difficult proposition.

But that good work was quickly forgotten as Pakistan lurched to 48 for five by the close; next day they were routed for 100, thanks to a combination of miserable batting and mediocre umpiring. It was not easy for Steve Davis and Ian Gould, with close fielders thronging the bat for the spinners, and no DRS to fall back on. Younis Khan was especially unfortunate to be given out lbw with an accompanying nick, while both Taufeeq Umar and nightwatchman Ajmal could feel aggrieved at their dismissals. Pakistan's bowlers copped the worst of it, too: at various points, Paranavitana, Mahela Jayawardene and Dilshan were all grateful the DRS was not in operation.

Pakistan could, however, make few excuses for the self-destructive display which cost them the match, and ultimately the series. The man chosen to fill the gap of the suspended Misbah-ul-Haq was Mohammad Ayub - at 32 years 283 days, thought to be Pakistan's fifth-eldest debutant, and the oldest since the 1950s, when they first entered Test cricket. Ayub battled gamely, but before he was out for a two-hour 25, he threw away his goodwill by declining Adnan Akmal's call for a second run. "My call, my call, I said 'yes'!" a furious Adnan shouted at him as he stormed off. Pakistan were in and out so quickly - by lunch on the third day - that Jayawardene could afford to give his batsmen time to push the lead to an impregnable 509.

When Pakistan lurched to stumps at 36 for three, rattled by the persistent Kulasekara, a complete humiliation was on the cards. Then Younis and Asad Shafiq ground it out for nearly two sessions, adding 151 for the fifth wicket, and almost stretched the match into the last day. Pakistan were eight down by the scheduled close, but Jayawardene claimed the extra half-hour, and Randiv struck in successive overs.

Man of the Match: K. C. Sangakkara.

Close of play: first day, Sri Lanka 300-2 (Sangakkara 111, D. P. M. D. Jayawardene 55); second day, Pakistan 48-5 (Younis Khan 15, Mohammad Ayub 1); third day, Pakistan 36-3 (Younis Khan 0, Saeed Ajmal 11).

© John Wisden & Co.