PAK vs SL: Sri Lanka batsmen put them at the top
Tuesday , July 03 2012 , 04:28 PM
Sri Lanka vs Pakistan
Forget wickets, the only things falling at SSC were rain and records. Wet outfield in the morning and obligatory showers in the afternoon meant a result was the farthest thing on people's minds. Even the steel bands, quintessential to cricket in Sri Lanka, have stayed away, making it a surreal experience to watch cricket in the country without the band playing.
Not that the pitch needed much help from the weather to produce a draw. What those breaks did, perhaps, was take off the scoreboard pressure because Sri Lanka were left with much less time to bat out. They were 373 behind still, but even in the worst-case scenario they had 19 wickets to bat out the four remaining sessions.
In the 205 minutes of play possible in the first two sessions, Tillakaratne Dilshan and Kumar Sangakkara sauntered towards their centuries. Sangakkara, in particular, looked certain he would get one, and make it a big one. On his favourite batting strip and against his favourite team, he reached a few landmarks. When he nudged Junaid Khan to fine leg for his 57th run, he became only the fourth man to have scored 2000 runs at a single venue, behind Graham Gooch at Lord's, Jacques Kallis at Newlands, and Mahela Jayawardene in Galle and at the SSC. Two overs later, when he pulled Junaid behind square, the couple took him to 2090 runs against Pakistan, more than anybody else, then at an average of 87.
Sangakkara began the day on 22, and kept on clipping balls from his pads with ease. The only time he looked in any discomfort was when he drove at wide deliveries to edge them just out of reach of gully. Dilshan carried his reckless approach from day three into this morning too, but after two plays and misses he put his head down and cut out all the risks. He didn't mind Sangakkara overtaking him even though he began the day 24 ahead. He scored just 14 runs in the first session, but was a much more reassuring sight than in the last session on day two.
Dilshan's extravagance nearly cost him his wicket when he went after an Aizaz Cheema delivery so wide, it would have been called in ODIs. Cheema managed to get another delivery to lift towards Dilshan's chest early on in the day, but that was the last inconvenience the pitch caused to the batsmen, especially once they decided they could do without undue risks. Only the rare quick turning delivery from Abdur Rehman in the last over before lunch managed to beat the bat.
After a sumptuously long lunch break, Rehman remained the only semblance of a threat. When on 86, Sangakkara played back to a full ball from Rehman, and was beaten. Just like the last over before lunch, the last over before tea, from Rehman, featured one rare sharp turner that beat Dilshan. An inside edge denied him an lbw next ball. Other than that, a wicket looked as unlikely as a dry day in Colombo.
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