Pakistan fights back and Dilshan-Sangakkara stand
Kumar Sangakkara and T. M. Dilshan added an invaluable 225 runs for the second wicket to take Sri Lanka to 278 for five at close on the fifth day of the second cricket test played at the SSC grounds on Tuesday.
Chasing a score of 352 runs to avert the follow-on, Sri Lanka still needed 74 runs to reach their first goal, with five wickets in hand and only a day's play remaining. Overall Sri Lanka is still 273 runs behind Pakistan.
Play was suspended in the post lunch session for two hours due to rain during the break but the drama took place in the final session when Pakistan snapped up four wickets.
Left arm seamer, Junaid Khan, bowled a superb six over spell to claim two wickets for 13 runs which triggered a mini collapse and Sri Lanka lost three top order wickets for 23 runs.
The scoreboard reading 236 for one at a time, suddenly changed to 259 for four before Sangakkara and night watchman, Suraj Randiv dragged it to 278. Randiv was trapped lbw by Abdur Rehman for five in the last over of the day.
Skipper, Mahela Jayawardene, who had scored more test runs at the SSC than any other batsman in the world, left the ball alone without offering a stroke and he was ruled out lbw to Junaid without a single run to his name. Jayawardene has played 37 innings in 25 tests at the SSC without a duck till then.
Thilan Samaraweera too faced a similar fate at the other end after 21 innings in 15 tests at the SSC. A straighter delivery from Saeed Ajmal, drifting towards the middle stump, hit Thilan's pad and umpire Ian Gould had no hesitation to rule him out lbw for naught.
If one takes out the two innings of Dilshan and Sangakkara from Sri Lanka’s scorecard, only 13 runs (8 of them extras) have been scored by the rest of the batsmen.
Capitalizing the best possible opportunity to re-capture the top spot in the ICC Test batting rankings, Sangakkara stroked an elegant unbeaten 144 off 254 balls. His 352 minutes stay in the crease fetched 14 boundaries.
With 61 runs against his name, Sangakkara surpassed former Indian legend, Sunil Gavaskar's 2089 highest Test tally against Pakistan. Gavaskar scored his runs in 24 tests, playing in 41 innings, while Sangakkara scored his 2173 runs in 15 Tests.
In the meantime, the left hander became a member of a special club of players having more than 30 test hundreds, where not even Sir Donald Bradman could be a member of. Including Sangakkara, there are 10 members, led by Sachin Tendulkar, with 51 test centuries to his name.
Dilshan too reached 5000 runs mark in test cricket and his innings of 299 minutes saw the ball going 13 times past the boundary rope while the opener sent one, from Saeed Ajmal, sailing over mid wicket boundary to reach his 14th testhundred.
(By Daminda Wijesuriya)