Good half ‘tons’ from the three Ts Tharanga, Thilan
Pakistan trailing by 84 runs
Sri Lanka who gained a first innings lead of 111 had Pakistan on 27
for one wicket still trailing by 84 runs with 9 wickets remaining at the
end of the third day of the Final Test at the Palekelle Stadium, here
Batmen out was Taufeeq Umar LBW to Kulesekera and the not outs were
Hafeez on 8 and Ali on 6. The best and most entertaining innings for the
day was played by all rounder Thisara Perera. Strongly built and packing
rhino power in his shots, Perera hit Umar Gul for 14 runs in one over –
two fours and a six. He played the role of ‘one armed bandit’ hitting
the bowler for six with his left hand over mid wicket.
Second new ball
After Prasanna Jayawardene went LBW to Gul first ball with the second
new ball, Perera and Nuwan Kulesekera played attacking cricket to post a
partnership of 50 runs in 58 balls. Kulesekera who is no mug with the
willow, played two classical cover drives.
Kulesekera who gave Perera good support went after a stand of 84
in108 balls with Perera – caught behind by Taufeeq Uma for 33 with 3
fours, Rangana Herath went LBW to Ajmal for 2 and then Khan knocked back
Perera off stump with a peach of a delivery for 75 with 4 fours, 3 sixes
in 84 balls to end the Lankan innings. It was a good double for Perera –
4 wickets and a blistering 75.
Left armer Junaid Khan who has been the best of the Pakistani bowlers
on tour had another 5 wicket haul like he did in the SSC Test. He has
the makings of another Wasim Akram if properly handled.
Compared to Monday, where the weather was so unkind and kept raining
all day, not allowing a ball to be bowled, the third day dawned bright,
but still the dreaded clouds were hanging over. The Test started 15
minutes early and when umpire Simon Taufell standing with his Australian
colleague Steve Davis called ‘play’, the sun was shining brightly which
was encouraging as it allowed play. When pay began, Pakistan who is one
down in the series was looking for early wickets to put Sri Lanka under
pressure. The home team needed to keep their wickets intact, go past the
visitors and build a lead and put them into the deep end.
The pre lunch was incident free with overnight not out batsmen
Tharanaga Paranavitarne and Thilan Samaraweera progressing with caution,
but scoring when the opportunities came along. The wicket that was kept
under wraps all day on Monday, behaved well and favoured the batsmen
more than the bowlers. But the bowlers did not lack for want of trying.
The batsmen played and missed but there was no cause for alarm.
Captain Misbah Ul Haq moved his bowers around, but would have been
frustrated, because his bowlers were not delivering.
Neck on the block
Paranavitarne’s neck was on the block with critics querying his place
in the team after failures in the Galle and SSC Test. But he silenced
his critics, batting sensibly and totting up his 11th half century in
He went from 48 to 52 when he cut a short no ball from Younus Khan to
the boundary. It came in 104 balls with 6 fours in 199 minutes.
The two batsmen deprived the Pakistanis of the wickets they were
looking for and took Sri Lanka to lunch at 142 for 3 with Paranavitarne
on 52 and Samaraweera on 45. Just after lunch Pakistan should have had
the wicket of Samaraweera. But the butter fingers that the Pakistan
fielders are renowned for, showed in Younus Khan at slip when he dropped
a regulation catch offered by Samaraweera off Umar Gul. Samaraweera was
on 49. Later on in the innings Misbah dropped Perera.
Samaraweera then reached his 29th 50 in Test cricket when he square
drove Umar Gul to the point boundary. His knock came in 110 balls, 150
minutes and consisted of 8 fours.
As the session after lunch progressed without hindrance, Sri Lanka
lost the wickets of Thilan Samaraweera LBW to Saeed Ajmal for
73,Tharanga Paranavitarne for 75 bowled by Ajmal and Angelo Mathews
caught in the gully by Asad Shafiq off Junaid Khan for 6 and at tea Sri
Lanka was 220 for six with Prasanna Jayawardene on 11 and Thisara Perera
on 4. Paranavitarne was lovely to watch with his square cutting and copy
book drives on the off, while Samaraweera was strong on the leg side and
driving on the off.
It was an even contest between bat and ball as the wicket continued
to play easy. Pakistan was relying heavily on off spinner Saeed Ajmal to
get them the quick wickets, but he wasn’t obliging.
It was a bit confusing as to why skipper Misbah did no bowl off
spinner Mohammed Hafeez before and after lunch. He was brought on for
one over just before tea. Misbah could also have bowled his leg spinner
Azhar Ali for variety.
It was a frustrating wait on Monday with no signs of play and while
humming the words of that perennial from Tony Brent – the clouds will
soon roll by – met with TV Commentators Chisty Mujahid, Roshan
Abeysinghe and Michael de Zoysa swapped jokes and talked of the glorious
past and the greats who made the gentlemen’s game memorable. Palekelle,
S C O R E C A R D
Pakistan 1st innings 226
Sri Lanka 1st innings
T. Paranavitana b Ajmal 75
D. Chandimal lbw b Junaid . 08
K. Sangakkara b Junaid . 00
M. Jayawardene lbw b Sami . 12
T. Samaraweera lbw b Ajmal 73
A. Mathews c Shafiq b Junaid . 09
P. Jayawardene lbw b Gul . 20
T. Perera not out . 75
N. Kulasekara c Taufeeq b Junaid 33
R. Herath lbw b Ajmal 02
D. Fernando not out 00
Extras: (b16, lb7, w6, nb1) . 30
Total (all out, 100.2 overs) 337
Fall of wickets: 1-14 (Chandimal), 2-14 (Sangakkara), 3-44 (M.
4-187 (Samaraweera), 5-200 (Mathews), 6-204 (Paranavitana),
7-236 (P. Jayawardene), 8-320 (Kulasekara), 9-337 (Herath), 10-337
Bowling: Gul 22-3-90-1 (w5), Junaid 28.2-3-70-5, Sami 17-1- 69-1 (w1),
Ajmal 25-5-66-3, Younis 3-0-9-0 (nb1), Hafeez 5-0- 10-0
Pakistan 2nd innings:
Mohammad Hafeez not out . 08
Taufeeq Umar lbw b Kulasekara . 04
Azhar Ali not out . 06
Extras: (lb4, w5) . 09
Total (for one wicket, six overs)27
Fall of wicket: 1-16 (Taufeeq).
Bowling: Kulasekara 3-1-9-1, Perera 3-0-14-0 (w5).