Third Test


At Kandy, August 26, 27, 28. Pakistan won by an innings and 52 runs. Toss: Pakistan. Test debuts: K. R. Pushpakumara, S. Ranatunga, W. P. U. J. C. Vaas; Kabir Khan.

Caught on a green-top pitch with plenty of moisture in it, while clouds hovered persistently over the stadium, Sri Lanka crumbled for 71 - their lowest Test score - in two hours 25 minutes and were finally brushed aside with more than two days remaining.

Hoping to square the series, the hosts made five changes, bringing in Sanjeeva Ranatunga, the third Ranatunga brother to play Test cricket, and pace bowlers Chaminda Vaas and Ravindra Pushpakumara. Opener Samaraweera and off-spinner Kalpage also returned while batsmen Gurusinha and Jayasuriya and spinners Warnaweera and Muralitharan were dropped; seamer Wickremasinghe was injured. Pakistan blooded left-arm pace bowler Kabir Khan in place of spinner Akram Raza, though he did not get a chance to bowl until the 24th over of Sri Lanka's second innings. Until then Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis had bowled unchanged for 51.2 overs. Waqar took centre stage with 11 for 119; Wasim had to be content with five wickets in the match, though he bowled eight consecutive maidens at the start of the second innings. The pair were all smiles on seeing the pitch and Sri Lankan captain Arjuna Ranatunga tried to postpone the start after losing the toss, claiming that the bowler's run up was slippery after overnight rain. The umpires allowed only ten minutes' delay, however, though a further break extended lunch. The ball moved and fizzed around, but it was a gutless display by the Sri Lankan batsmen. Ranatunga's dismissal was typical. Waqar peppered him with short-pitched deliveries and then forced him to glove one to slip. Sri Lanka would have gone for 56 if Kabir had not dropped last man Pushpakumara in the covers; he put on 25 valuable runs with Dassanayake.

When Pakistan batted, Pushpakumara's hostile bowling made the openers play and miss repeatedly, but they got off to a fighting start with 94 in 23 overs. Aamir Sohail was in swashbuckling form, despite a temperature, playing some handsome drives and passing 50 with a six. By the close, Pakistan already led by 38, with eight wickets in hand. They consolidated their advantage next day, when Inzamam-ul-Haq scored an unbeaten 100 from 125 balls, adding 98 in even time with Basit Ali, whose fifty featured some expuisite shots on the off side. That evening Sri Lanka lost another three wickets inside ten overs, all to Waqar. When they were reduced to 78 for six, only a hard-hitting stand of 131 between Tillekeratne, who finished undefeated on 83, and Kalpage saved the home team from complete embarrassment. They gave the 15,000 Sunday crowd something to cheer as Kalpage reached his fifty n 49 balls and slammed Wasim for three boundaries in an over. But Kabir ended the fun when he had Kalpage caught and Mushtaq Ahmed wiped out the tail with three wickets in 15 balls.

Man of the Match: Waqar Younis.

Close of play: First day, Pakistan 109-2 (Aamir Sohail 68*, Asif Mujtaba 1*); Second day, Sri Lanka 17-3 (D. P. Samaraweera 2*).

© John Wisden & Co