Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Sri Lanka and Pakistan - 3rd Test at Kandy

Pakistan returned to faith in pace for the third Test against Sri Lanka at the Pallakele Ground in Kandy. Trailing in the series after being outplayed by the hosts in the first Test and then drawing a big scoring and wet second Test, the shock selection was Mohammad Sami replacing Abdur Rehman. Rehman was one of the destroyers of England early in the year and despite being economical and taking a four wicket haul in Sri Lanka's first innings at Colombo, pace was preferred. Its Sami's first Test since late 2010 but he has impressed on tour, particularly in the ODI's. Umar Gul came back  into the side after injury replacing Aizaz Cheema.

Sri Lanka, who have been gradually pegged back by an improving Pakistan ever since their collapse on the second day in Galle, entered the decider without Dilshan Tillerkaratne, who has a century in each of the first two Tests and Surav Randiv, probably their best bowler of the series. Dinesh Chandimal opened and Thisara Perera took the the new ball and Fernando was given another try in place of Pradeep on what looked to be a pacy wicket at Pallekele.

Adnan Akmal is hit by
Perera took three of the first four as Pakistan stumbled to 4-56 just after drinks in the first session, confusing the batsmen with ball which seemed in both directions of the pitch. Nuwan Kulasekara got the prime wicket of Younis Khan, cramping into his pads one ball and bowling at a fourth stump outside off the next ball for a nibble behind. It was Perera again who made the breakthrough again after Misbah-ul-haq and Asad Shafiq had added 85 for the fifth wicket but Fernando who struck the most vital blow, breaking Adnan Akmal little finger with a rising delivery and forcing him from the field. Akmal might have shouted, Abba-like, "you missed the thumb Fernando" but it did him no good. Herath cleaned up, as he so often does and Pakistan ended with not enough.

Sri Lanka used the rest of the first day to collapse, finishing at 3-44 after being 2-8 in the eight over. Junaid Khan showed why he has been such a rapid improver in international cricket, removing Chandimal and the number one batsman in the world, Kumar Sangakkara, within four balls of each other. Sangakkara's scalp was the biggest, after he had scored more than 400 runs in four innings of this series with two near double hundreds. Cricket was again the great leveller.

The second day was lost to rain without a ball being bowled.