Sri Lanka miss Mahela, Sanga tactical brilliance – Chandimal

Rex Clementine

reporting from Pallekele

It was a safe call that Sri Lanka had put the third Test and the series beyond Pakistan’s reach when they set the tourists a target of 377. No team had chased that much to win a Test Match in Sri Lanka while Pakistan’s highest run chase is 315 for nine against Australia in Karachi in 1994.

However, Pakistan finished day four on 230 for two with Younis Khan and Shan Masood completing unbeaten centuries and with 147 required with eight wickets and a full day in hand, the tourists are favourites for their first series win in Sri Lanka in nine years.

Sri Lanka reduced Pakistan to 13 for two, but nothing went their way from thereon as Younis and Masood punished the bowlers. Perhaps, the tactical brilliance of former captains Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara would have come in handy to young captain Angelo Mathews.

"They are very experienced cricketers, who’ve played for a long time. Usually we receive lot of great ideas from them," wicketkeeper batsman Dinesh Chandimal told journalists yesterday.

"This team is very young. I think we do have a lot of good ideas and youngsters with a lot of talent. We need to figure out how to hide our weaknesses and win for our team. We’re hopeful we can do that as a young team."

"We actually thought we had enough runs on the board. At the start we thought if we could put 300 on the board, we could win the match. But after my partnership with Angelo, we thought we could get to a lead of 400. That way we could have completely locked them out of the match. Unfortunately we couldn’t get to 400. But 376 is a great total, and what should be a winning total in the fourth innings," Chandimal added.

Sri Lanka have to now depend on the second new ball which is 17 overs away. "When the ball was hard, the seamers had something from the pitch. But after about 30 overs, there wasn’t much for them. The seam movement disappeared. In the last hour and a half, we saw quite a bit of turn from Tharindu Kaushal. I’m hoping Kaushal will get us two or three wickets before the new ball," Chandimal further said.

Chandimal made 67 runs in the second innings and added 117 runs for the seventh wicket with skipper Angelo Mathews. One of the key points during the stand was the two batsmen handling leg-spinner Yasir Shah well. Yasir had troubled all batsmen taking 24 wickets in the series. In Sri Lanka’s second innings, however, he managed only two wickets.

"He’s a very good leg-spinner. In international cricket we don’t face many leg-spinners these days. He’s one of the best spinners we’ve seen recently. He took a lot of wickets, so we wanted to stop that. We tried to tire him out – to get him bowl 20-25 overs without giving him wickets. We did that well against him in the second innings."

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