Sri Lanka wrapped up their first Test series win since August 2009 – and condemned Pakistan to their first Test series defeat since July 2010 – by batting out the final afternoon to earn a draw at Pallekele.
The home side were set 270 in what turned out to be 62 overs by Pakistani captain Misbah-ul-Haq, and had progressed serenely to 132 for two in the 38th over thanks to an entertaining half-century from opener Dinesh Chandimal. However, he fell for 65 as the first of Saeed Ajmal’s three victims on the stroke of tea and the home side altered their approach after the break.
Sangakkara had added 88 in 162 balls with Chandimal for the second wicket before the interval, but he was joined by his captain Mahela Jayawardene afterwards and the pair added only 18 in the next 62 balls to effectively end Sri Lanka’s attempt to go for the win. Jayawardene departed for 11 from 44 balls, but first Thilan Samaraweera and then Angelo Mathews partnered Sangakkara through to the inevitable conclusion, with the left-hander ending on 74 not out as the home side ended on 195 for four.
Earlier, the ninth-wicket pair of Asad Shafiq and Adnan Akmal had added 81 in the morning session for Pakistan, with Shafiq bringing up his second Test century from 195 balls – enough to give him the man-of-the-match award following his first innings 75 – and Akmal, batting with his broken finger, making 35 before the declaration came.
Pakistan, though, will be left to rue their performance in the first Test at Galle; one which left them playing catch-up for the remainder of the series and allowed Sri Lanka to prepare pitches that negated their strong pace attack.
For the hosts, the series win marks a welcome return to form for a side that had increasingly come to rely too much on their senior players. Although, Kumar Sangakkara was quite rightly named man-of-the-series, there were pleasing performances at various stages from less experienced players such as Dinesh Chandimal, Thisara Perera and Nuwan Kulasekara which bode well for the future.
© Cricket World 2012
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