Veteran Kumar Sangakkara hit a 200-plus score for the 10th time to light up the fourth day’s play in the first Test between Sri Lanka and Pakistan in Galle on Saturday.
The prolific left-hander made 221 as the hosts declared their first innings at 533-9 shortly before stumps, a lead of 82 runs over Pakistan’s total of 451.
Left-arm spinner Rangana Herath then had opener Khurram Manzoor caught behind for three to reduce the tourists to 4-1 in six overs before the close.
Ahmed Shehzad was on one and nightwatchman Saeed Ajmal had yet to score when stumps were drawn, leaving Pakistan the task of batting out the final day to draw the opening encounter of the two-match series.
Sangakkara, second only behind Australian legend Don Bradman’s tally of 12 scores of more than 200, took advantage of the easy-paced wicket to toy with the Pakistan attack for nearly 12 hours.
He fell in the post-tea session, stumped off spinner Abdur Rehman trying to pick up the scoring rate in the company of tailenders.
“I think everyone is second to the Don,” said Sangakkara. “I am pretty happy that I am two double-hundreds behind him because that is probably the only way I can even get close to reaching him.
“It was quite a bit of hard work out there, and also a little bit of luck. But this game is not over yet. We need to get nine wickets. Our responsibility will be to make the batsman play as much as we can.”
Ajmal spins late magic
Pakistan’s frontline off-spinner Ajmal, who went wicketless for 46 overs, grabbed five on either side of tea to finish with expensive figures of five for 166 from 59.1 overs.
“Sangakkara played very well, but the story would have been different if some catches had been taken or some decisions had favoured us,” said Ajmal.
“We are confident that we will not lose this match, but we have to see how the first session goes tomorrow [Sunday].”
Meanwhile, captain Angelo Mathews hit 91 during a fourth-wicket stand of 181 with Sangakkara before he was caught in the slips off Ajmal just before tea.
The Sri Lankan captain has been dismissed in the 90s on five occasions — thrice on 91 against Pakistan since last December.
The second and final Test will be played on Jayawardene’s home ground at the Sinhalese Sports Club in Colombo from August 14.
Sri Lanka set to lose Kalpage
Sri Lanka’s acting assistant coach Ruwan Kalpage has reportedly signed up for a fielding coach position with Bangladesh, according to ESPNcricinfo.
Although Sri Lanka Cricket’s top official Ashley de Silva de Silva said Kalpage would not leave the Islanders before the completion of the Pakistan tour, Bangladesh Cricket Board Director Jalal Yunus has said that Kalpage would be arriving “in the next day or two”.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 10th, 2014.
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