Since the Pallekele stadium’s first match back in December 2010, we have seen it mature in sorts. The best performance by batsmen and bowlers however, has come in this series. It was the final Test in a 3-match series between hosts Sri Lanka and Pakistan. Lankans had already taken the lead in the first Test at Galle with an easy victory, but the Pakistanis came back from their horrendous form and managed to draw the second test at SSC..
The scoresPakistan 226 & 380/8 declared.
Sri Lanka 337 & 195 for 4 wkts.
Full scorecard : 3rd test, 2012.
It was a good toss to win for home team with plenty of juice in the pitch and bowlers did their job, restricting visitors to just 226 despite a fighting knock from Asad Shafiq. Pakistanis grabbe 3 wickets before close of play on day 1 while not a single ball was bowled on day 2 due to rain. Thilan Samaraweera and Tharanga Paranavitana batted solidly to start day 3 before Thisara Perera made a counter attacking half century to fetch a substantial 111 runs lead for home team.
Things weren’t looking bright for the visitors, as by the end of day 4, they looked like they were going to give away another victory here. They had managed to reach 299 for 8 but needed a lot more as the Lankans at that time would have needed just 188 to win. As the last day started, all eyes were on Asad Shafiq, who had scored 75 runs in the first innings. He was expected to produce a similar performance here, but his partner at the time was bottom order batsman and Pakistan’s wicketkeeper Adnan Akmal, whose batting average has been poor. Fernando, who reached the milestone of 100 Test wickets yesterday, would be looking to increase it by another two and Herath was also in brilliant form. Sri Lanka just needed a couple of quick wickets to seal Pakistan’s fate. But Asad Shafiq and Adnan Akmal had other things in mind.
In a stunning batting display, both Shafiq and Adnan stood their ground, catapulting theirteam away from the jaws of certain defeat, and declared the innings at 380 for 8, right after Shafiq reached a fine century. One had to give it up for Akmal as well, who batted brilliantly, considering he had a fractured ring finger. The Lankans now needed a total of 270 runs to win, with 71 overs for the remaining. This was pretty gettable, as the pitch was still giving batsmen that slight edge, and when the Lankans came on to the field, it was game on.
Paranavitana and Chandimal immediately got onto their target, getting some quick runs on the board. But the former didn’t last that long, so it was Sangakkara’s turn next. The pace of the match was slowly dropping, but it looked like they were still going for the win. Sangakkara and Paranavitana put on a fine 88-run partnership, which saw Chandimal reach 65 before he fell to Shafiq, who caught the ball brilliantly. After this wicket, it became evident quickly that the Lankans were just oing for a draw. The pace of their innings had slowed down to almost a standstill, and with the skipper Mahela Jayawardene and Samaraweera’s early exits, Sangakkara and Angelo Mathews hung back, reaching 195 before they ran out of overs. Both captains shook hands and the match was called.
Asad Shafiq was named Man of the Match and Sangakkara got series award.
Pakistan’s fall and rise during this tour will be talked about for some time. The way they have managed to pick themselves up is inspiring, and it shows just how good a team they are. Speaking about the Lankans, one might argue that the hosts had a dull approach towards the target, but then again, they already had the series lead with the win at Galle. Although their priority at the moment was to protect the lead and see the series through without any hiccups, a win here would mean that they would move up to the 5th spot in the ICC Test Rankings.
The two teams’ histories have seen additions as well. This is the first time that Pakistan have lost a Test series under the captaincy of Misbah-ul-Haq, while Sri Lanka’s win is their first since 2009, since Muthiah Muralitharan retired. The Lankans will definitely be pleased with this result.