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By Amit Banerjee
Aug 16, 2014
Sri Lanka were 86 for the loss of two wicket after the lapse of 28 overs at the end of the second session of the third day of the second and final Test against Pakistan at the Sinhalese Sports Club at Colombo on Saturday. At the crease were Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene batting at 17 and 1 respectively.
Having dismissed Pakistan for 332 right before the players and umpires broke for Lunch, the Sri Lankan openers walked out to the field hoping that they get the ideal start that they got in the first innings, without the middle order collapse that caused them to go from 167 for two to 261 for eight.
Pakistan skipper Misbah-ul-Haq decided to introduce spin quite early into the Lankan innings, introducing Abdur Rehman and Saeed Ajmal in the second and sixth overs itself. The visitors were sorely missing the presence of Junaid Khan, who had to be hospitalised after getting hit on his helmet grill by a vicious Dhammika Prasad bouncer whose impact he felt in his jaw. Junaid, who was the pick of the Pakistani bowlers in the first innings with figures of five for 87, was substituted by Umar Akmal.
While Kausal Silva took his time to settle at the crease, barely scoring at a rate of two, Upul Tharanga decided to fire right from the start. The southpaw started attacking the spinners in the early overs and left opposition skipper Misbah-ul-Haq scratching his head. Tharanga struck five boundaries to reach 45 off 63 balls. He was just five runs short of his fifth Test half-century when he tried to pull a low delivery off Rehman that got deflected from the inside edge of the bat and crashed onto his stumps. Pakistan had struck first blood.
In came Kumar Sangakkara, who had the milestones of crossing Brian Lara’s Test run tally as well as reaching 12,000 career runs in his mind. Silva had barely hit a boundary and showed some signs of opening up when he edged a well-flighted delivery to Younis Khan at the first slip, who would not let it go at any cost.
Silva’s dismissal brought forth the outgoing Sri Lankan batting legend, Mahela Jayawardene, to the ground. His arrival was that of high emotions and the atmosphere suddenly turned electric. The Sinhalese Sports Club, his favourite hunting ground in the world. have him a reception to remember. Members of the Pakistan team as well as Sangakkara came down to welcome him to the ground as he stood at the crease in white clothing for the last time.
With the players and umpires breaking for Tea, we can only hope for the last partnership between Sangakkara and Jayawardene to be a fruitful one. While Sangakkara hopes to reach his milestones, Jayawardene would pray to bow out in style.
Sri Lanka 320 and 86 for 2 (Upul Tharanga 45; Abdur Rehman 2 for 33) lead Pakistan 332 (Ahmed Shehzad 58, Asad Shafiq 42, Sarfraz Ahmed 103; Herath 9 for 127) by 74 runs.
(Amit Banerjee, a reporter at CricketCountry, takes keen interest in photography, traveling, technology, automobiles, food and, of course, cricket. He can be followed on Twitter via his handle @akb287)
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