Sangakkara helps Sri Lanka cruise to victory
Sangakkara’s ton, a decent performance from the Sri Lankan bowlers, and a below-par stint by the Pakistani batsmen helped them take a victory under four days to take a 1-0 lead in the three match Test series.
After Pakistan were comfortably thumped in the ODI series 3-1, Sri Lanka now had to face a tough task in up scaling them in the biggest version of the game, Test matches. This one was held in Galle and Mahela Jayawardena enjoyed the benefit of the toss to bat first. The pitch was a relatively dry wicket and was expected to deteriorate in the last couple of days of the Test.
Pakistan handed Mohammad Ayub, a 32-year old his first international game while Sri Lanka had a relatively balanced side when they opted for two specialist spinners and two pacers.
Tillakaratne Dilshan made full use of the batting track and some monotonous bowling. Paranavitana failed to capitalize much while Dilshan went on to notch up his 13th Test century. Kumar Sangakkara was in sublime form and he went on piling up runs with his effortless stroke-play. There were a couple of decisions which went against Pakistan, and they were unlucky to fall prey to that. On the other hand, Mahela Jayawardena supported his former skipper, but then fell after his half-century. Sri Lanka finished Day 1 on 300/2.
On Day 2, a couple of wickets fell before Prasanna Jayawardene gave support to Sangakkara to hold on to the innings. But then the lower order crumbled and the last wicket fell, leaving Kumar Sangakkara, unfortunately on 199 not out. Kumar went on to earn the Batting Momentum with 253, while Hafeez took the Bowling Efficiency of 12.
Pakistan then had one of their most famed collapses in the second innings. Only Mohammad Hafeez, Misbah-ul-Haq and the debutant Mohammad Ayub got to three figures before they got shot for 100, which is their second lowest innings total against Sri Lanka. The chief destruction was caused by the tall lanky off-spinner, Suraj Randiv, who bagged the Bowling Efficiency with 49.. He was also supported by Rangana Herath who took three wickets.
Inspite of Sri Lanka having a very tight lead of 372, they somewhat used a negative approach and decided to bat on instead of enforcing the follow-on. And they not only played slowly, apart from Tillakaratne Dilshan, who almost played a run-a-ball innings. They finally decided to declare at 137/5, with more than a handy lead of 509 run, handing over Pakistan to face off the last hour before the end of play on Day 3.
On Day 4, Pakistan were already 3 wickets down and the nightwatchman, Saeed Ajmal fell early to a run-out. From there on, Younus Khan and Asad Shafiq carved out a very steady partnership. They did not allow the opposition to peg . But the 80-run stand was broken to remove Shafiq. Younus Khan could not do much as he lost his partners a little too frequently. Adnan Akmal was the only last recognized player left to bat it out with the tail-enders. In the end at the fall of the ninth wicket, Sri Lanka extended the session for half an hour. There were no stopping Sri Lanka to win this one.
For his very patient innings of 87, Younus Khan won the Batting Momentum with 72. Nuwan Kulasekara took the Bowling Efficiency with 14 for his three-for.
For his splendid knock of 199 not out, Kumar Sangakara was handed the Man of the Match award.