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Tough ask for Sri Lanka

When Pakistan set Sri Lanka 492 for victory, it was a big ask and a target never before achieved in the history of the game and whether the Lankan batsmen can get there and rewrite the record books, or succumb only when the final ball is bowled today could tell.

At the close Sri Lanka had lost 3 for 183 and require another to 309 to get to cricketís promised land. If there is a will there is a way, it is said and there is no reason why the Lankan batsmen cannot do it. What they got to do is believe in themselves and play that way, then the impossible could be made possible.

At the wickets are Kumar Sangakkara on 50 and Thilan Samaraweera 20 and at the moment things donít look rosy. But it must be remembered that the days of cricketing miracles are still not over.

The wicket, although on the slow side has behaved well so far, but itís only natural that it will be spin friendly on the final day and assist the Pakistani spinners Sohaib Malik, Saeed Ajmal and Danesh Kaneira.

The Lankan batsmen must not be overawed by the presence of these three spinners. They are also human and if the batsmen use correct batting techniques to counter them, they can be made to look ordinary.

The morning session today could be crucial. The batsmen must take it session by session and move on from there, remembering that a match is not won or lost till the final ball is bowled.

In their victory bid Sri Lanka has lost Malinda Warnapura for 31 and Tharanga Paravitharne for a well played 73 which had 5 boundaries. Warnapura was taken at leg slip by Malik off Kaneira and Paranawitharne at short leg by Alam off Malik.

The wickets were lost at 83 and 139. At 155 Sri Lanka lost the vital wicket of Mahela Jayawardena for 2 caught at the second attempt by keeper Akmal off Kaneira.

The first session belonged to the Pakistanis who added a further125 runs for the loss of four wickets before Younus Khan applied the closure just after lunch at 425 for 9.

Shoaib Malik who was unbeaten on a majestic 106 added another 28 runs before he was out brilliantly caught by substitute fielder Suraj Randiv diving at deep mid off.

Before Malik, Kamran Akmal who showed his capabilities with the willow smacking a grand 60 on the previous day was first to go at 319 when he was brilliantly held by Jayawardena in the slips off Kulasekera for 74.

It was nice too see Umer Gul using the long handle and breezing away to make a quick 46 before offering Chaminda Vaas a running catch at square leg off Herath. He had three big sixes and three fours in his knock.

Danesh Kaneira who was reprimanded dollied at catch to Mirando fielding at mid off off Herath for 5 and then after taking lunch at 410 for 9, Khan asked Mohammed Amer to have a go and the youngster obliged clouting three fours and a six before calling a halt at 425 for 9.

The Lankans were set 492 for victory in five sessions of play.

During the Pakistani batting rampage, with no other spinner to support him, Left arm spinner Rangana Herath gallantly stuck to his task bowling a marathon spell of 46 overs and was rewarded with 5 wickets for 157.His second five wicket haul in the series.

The Pakistani 425 was built around three partnerships of 119 for the fifth wicket between Misbah and Malik,133 between Malik and Akmal and 52 between Malik and Gul.

After their poor batting efforts in the First Two Tests, it was nice to see the front line Pakistani batsmen, bat the way we know they can. How they failed to do likewise earlier was inexplicable.

 

PAKISTAN 2ND INNINGS (overnight 300-5):
Khurram Manzoor b Herath 			 2
Fawad Alam c and b Thushara  			16
Younus Khan lbw b Kulasekera 			19
Mohammad Yousuf c Sangakkara b Herath 		23
Misbah-ul Haq c Sangakkara b Mathews 		65
Shoaib Malik c sub (Lakmal) b Herath 		134
Kamran Akmal c Jayawardene b Kulasekera 	74
Umar Gul c Vaas b Herath 			46
Danish Kaneria c Thushara b Herath 		 5
Mohammad Aamer not out 				22
Saeed Ajmal not out 				 3
Extras: (b10, lb2, nb2, w2) 			16
Total (for 9 wkts decl, 123 overs) 		425
Fall of wickets: 1-16 (Manzoor), 2-22 (Alam), 3-54 (Younus), 4-67 (Yousuf), 
5-186 (Misbah), 6-319 (Akmal), 7-371 (Malik), 8-399 (Gul), 9-405 (Kaneria).
Bowling: Kulasekera 20-5-55-2 (w1), Thushara 28-2-121-1 (nb2, w1), 
Herath 46-6-157-5, Vaas 19-6-47-0, Mathews 10-1-33-1

SRI LANKA 2ND INNINGS:
T. Paranavitana c Alam b Malik 		73
M. Warnapura c Malik b Kaneria 		31
K. Sangakkara not out 			50
M. Jayawardene c Akmal b Kaneria 	 2
T. Samaraweera not out 			20
Extras: (lb5, nb2) 			7
Total (for 3 wkts, 59 overs) 		183
To bat: Tillakaratne Dilshan, Angelo Mathews, Rangana Herath, Chaminda Vaas, Thilan Thushara, Nuwan Kulasekera.
Fall of wickets: 1-83 (Warnapura), 2-139 (Paranavitana), 3-155 (Jayawardene).
Bowling: Gul 6-0-27-0 (nb1), Aamer 9-0-20-0, Younus 3-0-16-0, Ajmal 16-1-36-0, Malik 9-1-23-1 (nb1), Kaneria 16-1-56-2.

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