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Pakistan shutters after Lanka post huge score

Pakistan lost all its top-order wickets, barring the out-of-form Younis Khan, and was tottering at 48-5 on the second day of the first Test against Sri Lanka on Saturday

Medium pacer Nuwan Kulasekara and spinner Suraj Randiv, took two wickets each of successive balls in their spells to leave Pakistan with a huge task on hand on Sunday.

Pakistan would have been worse off had wicketkeeper Prasanna Jayawardene held Younis Khan off Rangana Herath: the ball had taken a faint edge, hit both the front and back pads of Khan, and hit Prasanna beneath the knee roll and died on him. Khan was then on 7.

Earlier, Kumar Sangakkara (199 not out) guided Sri Lanka to safety as the team posted 472.

The Sri Lankan script did not play out exactly as planned today, as the Pakistani bowlers stuck to the task on hand and checked the scoring rate. The day began with Sri Lanka on top – 300 for 2 overnight and looking for some quick runs – but it became increasingly clear that there were no easy runs to be had. The bowlers, especially the spinners, challenged the Sri Lankan batsmen to take them on.

While Pakistan’s wily off-spinner Saeed Ajmal foxed three Sri Lankan batsmen on the second morning to make sure that the visitors did not score at the rate they did on the opening day. Mohammed Hafeez, who held himself back on Friday, came back to claim three wickets on Saturday. All the wickets that fell in the Sri Lankan innings went to spinners.

Sangakkara stranded

During the course of the innings, Sangakkara completed 2000 Test runs against Pakistan. He already has two double centuries against Pakistan. He nearly got the third – because of a scorer error. Sangakkara slog-swept an Ajmal delivery past mid-wicket for a six, and celebrated. The problem: though the scoreboard showed 200, he was actually on 199. He lost concentration for a moment, could not score a much-needed single of the next ball – Ajmal’s last for the over – and exposed Nuwan Pradeep to Hafeez. Hafeez took just one ball to clean up Pradeep. Sangakkara was stranded on 199.

While all the Pakistan bowlers tried hard on a pitch with considerable bounce, it was only Ajmal who could make the assistance count. He took all the five Sri Lankan top-order wickets.

Both Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene (62) were watchful in the morning. Umar Gul and Junaid Khan bowled with fire with the second new ball, which was just six overs old. But luck evaded both bowlers, partly because both batsmen were too cautious. Both batsmen were testing if the pitch had changed character significantly after the overnight rains. Junaid was replaced after a mere two overs though, both maidens.

Ajmal got the first breakthrough of the day. Mahela used the reverse-sweep against Ajmal to help himself to a boundary. Mahela blocked the next one. In a bid to push up the scoring, he tried to slog-sweep the next one, a fuller ball on the off-stump. The bat smashed the hot Galle air, as the ball made its unhurried way to break the off-stump.

Thilan Samaraweera (6), whose excessive blocking of the ball meant that he was a solid middle-order for Sri Lanka, was done in by his inability to read Saeed Ajmal. Samaraweera tried to stretch and defend a floated-up doosra, but ended stretching too much forward, and, horror of horrors, dragging his back foot a little over the crease. The ball teased, passed the defensive bat, and Akmal had the bails off in a wink.

What followed next is the stuff that makes Ajmal the nastiest bowler in world cricket. He had the hero of the last one-day international, Anjelo Mathews (0) – which gave Sri Lanka that series – lazily pushing at a full flighted delivery. A dolly of a return catch, and Ajmal accepted it with glee. Two wickets in two balls, and the spring in the feet was back with the Pakistani fielders.

But Prasanna Jayawardene (48) and Sangakkara did not take chances and saw the side through to lunch without any further loss. Prasanna rose up to the task of steadying the innings after the quick setbacks, and put on 80 runs for the sixth-wicket.

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Posted by on Jun 24 2012. Filed under Cricket News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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