Pakistan eye face-saving win in final Test
by AFP

Ground:Sinhalese Sports Club Ground, Colombo
Scorecard:Sri Lanka v Pakistan
Player:NT Paranavitana, Umar Gul, Shoaib Malik
Event:Pakistan in Sri Lanka 2009

DateLine: 23rd July 2009


Pakistan remained on course to win the third and final cricket Test against Sri Lanka after denting the home team's chase of a world record target on Thursday.


Sri Lanka, set an improbable 492 to sweep the series 3-0 after they had won the first two Tests, were 183-3 in their second knock at stumps on the fourth day at the Sinhalese sports club.


When play begins on the fifth day for the first time in the series -- the first Test ended in four days and the second in three -- Pakistan will need seven wickets and Sri Lanka a further 309 runs in 90 overs.


No team has scored 492 runs in the fourth innings to win a Test match. The highest successful chase so far is 418-7 by the West Indies against Australia in Antigua in 2003.


Sri Lanka were given a minimum of 150 overs to get the runs after Pakistan declared their second innings at 425-9 soon after lunch with former captain Shoaib Malik making 134.


Sri Lankan openers Malinda Warnapura and Tharanga Paranavitana put on 83 for the first wicket in 25 overs, their best partnership of the series, to raise visions of a history-defying feat.


But the fall of three wickets in the final session set Sri Lanka back even as skipper Kumar Sangakkara returned unbeaten on 50, having surpassed the 7,000-run mark in his 83rd Test on the way.


Thilan Samaraweera was the other batsman at the crease on 20.


"There is a long way to go, but we have a great chance to win this Test," said Pakistan wicket-keeper Kamran Akmal.


"It is still a good wicket to bat on, but the odd ball is turning and we have two spinners in the side bowling in the fourth innings."


Sri Lanka's left-arm spinner Rangana Herath did not rule out a victory for the hosts.


"If we continue to bat the way we have done in this innings so far, we will have a very good chance to win the match," said Herath, who took 5-157 in Pakistan's second innings.


"We are certainly not looking to draw the game."


Warnapura, who made 31, was unfortunate to be given out caught by English umpire Ian Gould as television replays showed the ball from Danish Kaneria go off the pad to the short-leg fielder.


Paranavitana went on to make a fluent 73 before tapping an easy catch to Fawad Alam at forward short-leg off Malik to make Sri Lanka 139-2.


Kaneria picked up his second wicket soon after when Mahela Jayawardene, who plodded for 29 minutes to make two, poked at a wide ball and edged a catch to the wicket-keeper.


Earlier, Pakistan added 19 runs to their overnight score of 300-5 when Akmal fell in the day's fourth over after making 74 during a sixth-wicket stand of 133 with Malik.


Tailender Umar Gul showed there were no hidden demons in the pitch as he helped himself to his highest Test score of 46 from 50 balls.


Malik was dismissed after a six-hour vigil at the crease when he holed out in the deep off Hearth.


The right-hander hit 13 fours and two sixes to shore up Pakistan's innings after they had collapsed to 67-4 before lunch on the third day.


Pakistan's declaration marked the last stint at the bowling crease for veteran Sri Lankan seamer Chaminda Vaas, who retires from Test cricket after the match with 355 wickets from 111 Tests.


The 35-year-old, who was overlooked for the first two Tests, claimed just one wicket in 39 overs in his final match.

(Article: Copyright © 2009 AFP)


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