Rain returns to hurt chances of result - 07-02-2012, 08:15 AM
Misbah-ul-Haq declared after making a quick half-century and taking Pakistan past 550 © AFP
Afternoon showers on day three put an outright result in serious doubt as only one session could be played out. In that session, Pakistan added 63 to their overnight 488 before declaring. In the next 70 minutes, Sri Lanka were put through a sterner test than the Pakistan openers, but they lost just one wicket.
Pakistan's quicks generated more response from the pitch than their Sri Lankan counterparts, but that didn't translate into too much success as Tillakaratne Dilshan rode his luck. An overnight declaration on 488 was a consideration because of the weather: 45 overs had already been lost on day two, and forecast for the rest of the Test wasn't the brightest either. However, Pakistan went for the scoreboard pressure, and declared only after they reached 550.
Pakistan didn't meander aimlessly, though: Misbah-ul-Haq went at a strike-rate of 82.50, much higher than his ODI career statistic, and Abdur Rehman hit two straight sixes in his 18 off 13. It took Pakistan little under an hour, and 12.4 overs, to score the 63 runs that took them past 550. In the process Misbah reached his 17th half-century, scoring 37 off 40 balls on the third morning. The fields were spread far out so he had to rely more on well-placed ones and twos as opposed to boundaries. Asad Shafiq and Adnan Akmal perished for the cause, but Rehman provided the required thrust with sixes off both spinners. Rangana Herath bowled one over fewer than a whole ODI innings.
Ten minutes later, with runs on board already, Pakistan made a spirited start with the ball. Aizaz Cheema and Junaid Khan bowled faster and hit the seam more often than the Sri Lankan bowlers. As a result, they bowled more threatening deliveries in one spell than Sri Lanka did in the whole innings. Cheema began with a short-of-a-length delivery that reared towards Tharanga Paranavitana's chest. Paranavitana never settled in, and was caught bat-pad to a Junaid delivery that seamed in. This was Paranavitana's seventh duck in his 28th Test, a high rate for a Test opener.
Tillakaratne Dilshan, at the other end, tried every trick in the book to get out, but the pitch and luck smiled on him benevolently. The seam movement in Junaid's first over seemed to have rattled him, and he hoicked at the last ball of that over; the leading edge fell straight of mid-on. Until lunch, Dilshan kept slashing and flashing, twice edging short of the cordon, once bisecting keeper and first slip. In Saeed Ajmal's first over, minutes before lunch, he survived a desperately close lbw shout when he was hit just above the knee roll bang in front and inside the crease. However, nothing stopped the aggressive Dilshan: he followed that lbw shout with two lofted fours, a response not too different to the rest of his innings. By lunch he had raced along to 46 off 54.
Kumar Sangakkara was much more reassuring for Sri Lanka, clipping the first ball he faced for four, and continuing to do so. The only moment of concern at Sangakkara's end arrived when he got a thick inside edge onto his pad, but it was too meaty for Azhar Ali at short leg to react in time.
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