Kaneria puts Pakistan on course
Danish Kaneria persevered unflinchingly to throttle Sri Lanka's aspirations of saving the Test with a bowling display that gave Pakistan hope, and asked questions that the batsmen had no answer to
Close Sri Lanka 208 and 361 for 7 (Jayasuriya 107, Sangakkara 138, Kaneria 6-102) lead Pakistan 478 by 91 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Kumar Sangakkara's 138 was a patchy innings, but it helped Sri Lanka take the lead and play for time
Danish Kaneria persevered unflinchingly to throttle Sri Lanka's aspirations of saving the Test with a bowling display that gave Pakistan hope, and asked questions that the batsmen had no answer to. Sri Lanka, after battling to overhaul Pakistan's lead, have managed only a little one for themselves. With only three wickets in hand, staving off defeat will be difficult tomorrow. Sri Lanka ended the day at 371 for 6, ahead of Pakistan by 94 runs.
Pakistan relied on Kaneria throughout the day. On this spinning track, he delivered more overs than anyone else and his persistence was rewarded with six for 102. The batsmen, clueless about which way Kaneria was turning it, padded him away, and escaped unpunished over this because the umpires were overcautious. No other bowler looked likely to crack the Sri Lankan line-up: none quite had his range or accuracy. The batsmen thrived when the others bowled, but wondered what to do when he came on. Caught between smothering his spin and playing it late, they perished slowly but regularly. Sri Lanka had fought admirably for three sessions, but came undone in their fourth.
The fight had been put up by Sanath Jayasuriya (107) - who in the process became Sri Lanka's highest Test run-scorer - and then Kumar Sangakkara, who scored 138. The contributions of the rest, although paltry, took up time, a valuable commodity that Pakistan could not afford to give away.
Pakistan had an early breakthrough when Jayasuriya tried sweeping a delivery, only to top-edge it to square leg. Initially, Mahela Jayawardene and Sangakkara played nervously, but recovered their composure to put on 83 for the second wicket. Thilan Samaraweera began less edgily, but a lot more slowly than his team-mates: he was chiefly responsible for a dry afternoon with his 130-ball innings of 22 before Kaneria nailed him.
Thereafter, Sri Lanka's resistamce fell to rubble. Sangakkara went first, edging Naved-ul-Hasan to the wicketkeeper after a gritty hundred that had made Pakistan worried. While he stood firm and scored runs, the others could play around him. Even he had been troubled by Kaneria, and was beaten often. To Sangakkara's credit, he shrugged off this dominance and asserted himself when the ball was there to be hit. One Kaneria delivery that was sighted early was carted over midwicket, the next pushed down the ground for four. But Sri Lanka still remained nervous about Sangakkara's survival, and over their one-match lead in the series even while he battled on.
His removal meant Pakistan were comfortably on the road to victory. Jehan Mubarak drove at Kaneria and the ball ended in leg-slip's hands, and Romesh Kaluwitharana played one on to his stumps. A valiant fightback was all but over.
Rahul Bhatia is on the staff of Wisden Cricinfo.