Series heads for a close finish
Test enthusiasts can look forward to what would probably be an exciting day’s play on the final day on Monday (today), in the third and final clash between Sri Lanka and Pakistan at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium.
The pitch which showed signs of taking spin and offering more bounce in the third session on Day 4 on Sunday, can be expected to assist the Pakistani slow bowlers when Sri Lanka will resume their second innings at 133-5.
With 220 runs as the overall lead, the islanders need to concentrate on not losing wickets in the first hour before lunch and then go on to build a lead to perhaps beyond the 300 mark to ensure that a draw is achieved to protect their 1-0 series lead.
The overnight batsmen who have the responsibility to do the needful for the Lankans – skipper Angelo Mathews (14) and Prasanna Jayawardene (6) – have the task of providing the islanders the right frame of mind by the time they have lunch at noon on Monday.
On the other hand, Pakistani spinners Saeed Ajmal (1-36) and Abdur Rehman (2-36) have to give their side the vital break through before the islanders can entertain the idea of keeping their wickets intact and at the same time keep the scoreboard ticking.
Pakistan also have more than capable fast bowlers in Mohammad Talha (2-36) and Junaid Khan (0-25) as backup to the spin duo in handling the Lankan second innings.
As Misbah-ul-Haq the Pakistani skipper has been saying right through the four days: “We cannot afford to panic at any moment. The side which holds their nerves better will have at any given chance or time. The pitch taking turn or not is not the only criteria as we have to accept all the chances, full and half ones that are bound to come.”
Lanka captain Angelo Mathews opined: “As promised we started the Test we have not played so far for just a draw. We did take some time in our approach towards sound totals and if we put our heads down together and concentrate a little harder, we will see through the crises that can arise especially in the early sessions.”
Sri Lanka mopped up the Pakistan tail conceding 50 more runs to the overnight 291-6 as left arm slow Rangana Herath (5-125) and fast medium Shaminda Eranga (4-60) restricted the off shore hosts first essay down to 341ao.
Overnight batsman Misbah-ul-Haq who began with 35 on the fourth day was deceived by a Herath arm ball to be caught by Dinesh Chandimal but not before he continued the fight for a short while with the help of three 6s and one 4 during his 113-ball innings (325-9).
Earlier Eranga made sure the duration of Rehman’s and Talha’s stay at the wicket were of short duration.
Junaid Khan nailed in two 6s for a fighting 11 before the Chandimal-Herath combine came into the picture again while Saeed Ajmal remained not out scoreless as their side slipped to 87 runs short of the Sri Lankan first innings.
In the remaining eight overs before lunch Sri Lanka lost Dimuth Karunaratne for 8 clean bowled by the impressive pacer Talwa (13-1). Lunch on Day 4 was taken with the islanders on 19-1.
Kaushal Silva (36) lost the company of Kumar Sangakkara (8) but held a purposeful stand with Mahela Jayawardene before losing out on concentration to a ball from Rehman which just turned a bit to beat his forward defensive poke before tea (66-3).