Kumar Sangakkara was the star performer for the hosts with his 10th double ton © AFP
Kumar Sangakkara was the star performer for the hosts with his 10th double ton © AFP

By Devarchit Varma

Aug 9, 2014

Pakistan were 4/1 in their second essay at stumps after Sri Lanka declared their first innings at 533 for nine on Day Four  in the opening Test match at Galle. Ahmed Shehzad was batting on one alongwith nightwatchman Saeed Ajmal, who was yet to open his account. Pakistan were trailing by 78 runs. However, the day belonged to Kumar Sangakkara, who smashed his 10th double ton.

Sri Lanka took a lead of 82 runs in the first essay. Saeed Ajmal was Pakistan’s most successful bowler with five wickets in his kitty. He sent down as many as 59.1 overs, giving away 166 runs. But it was only after the tea break on the fourth day that Ajmal came to party, as Sri Lankan batsmen made merry on the flat deck at the Galle Stadium.

Resuming at 252 for two, Sri Lanka started off on a poor note losing Mahela Jayawardene for 59. This could as well be Jayawardene’s final innings at Galle as there is only one day of cricket left in this match with the pitch being supportive to the batsmen.

Jayawrdene faced 112 balls and smashed nine fours to score 59, and was trapped by Junaid Khan. His dismissal brought Angelo Mathews to the crease, who went onto to strengthen Sri Lanka’s position in the match. Mathews and  Sangakkara added 181 runs to put Sri Lanka in a position from which they could dominate. Mathews was unlucky as he was dismissed for 91, apparently for the third time at the same score against Pakistan.

Pakistan did all they could to break the stubborn stand, but none of their bowlers could produce that one magic delivery to make the breakthrough.

By tea, Sri Lanka had comfortably moved to the score of 449 for four, just two runs behind Pakistan’s total. It was just before the tea break when Mathews had possibly lapse in concentration, as he moved forward to play a delivery by Ajmal. The ball took the outside edge and Younis Khan did well to take a low catch.

Mathews’s wicket provided Ajmal the much-needed confidence, as he bowled impressively in the final session. He dismissed Niroshan Dickwella and Kithuruwan Vithanage in quick succession, and was the one who broke the eighth wicket stand between Sangakkara and Dilruwan Perera. He also got the wicket of Dhammika Prasad.

After Sri Lanka declared at 533 for nine, Pakistan made a shaky start as Khurram Mazoor was removed by Rangana Herath. The Pakistan opener was caught behind by the Sri Lankan wicketkeeper Dickwella.

The day, however, belonged to Sangakkara. He resumed play at 102, and went on to add another 119 runs to his total. Sangakkara dropped anchor and batted fluently, scoring runs on both the sides of the wickets. He did not take unnecessary risk as most of the strokes were along the ground.

Brief scores:

Pakistan 451 (Younis Khan 177, Asad Shafiq 75, Sarfraz Ahmed 55; Dilruwan Perera 5 for 137 Rangana Herath 3 for 116) & 4 for 1 (Rangana Herat1 for 3) trail Sri Lanka 533 for 9 decl. (Kaushal Silva 64, Kumar Sangakkara 221, Mahela Jayawardene 59, Angelo Mathews 91; Saeed Ajmal 5 for 166, Junaid Khan 2 for 104) by 78 runs.

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(Devarchit Varma is a reporter with CricketCountry. He can be followed on Twitter @Devarchit)