Kaneria, Ajmal hand Pakistan advantage
by CricketArchive Staff Reporter

Ground:Sinhalese Sports Club Ground, Colombo
Scorecard:Sri Lanka v Pakistan
Player:MTT Mirando, Danish Kaneria, DPMD Jayawardene, Saeed Ajmal
Event:Pakistan in Sri Lanka 2009

DateLine: 21st July 2009


Pakistan for the first time in the series can lay claim to the fact that they dominated a full day against Sri Lanka. Unlike the previous occasions where the teams dominated sessions, here Pakistan dictated a terms to Sri Lanka almost the full day. Just when Sri Lanka looks to run away with the match, Pakistani bowlers, especially the spinners would pull the match back into the favour of Pakistan.


It took Sri Lanka just 22 balls to wrap up the final three Pakistani. All the hopes of posting a substantial score rested on the shoulders of Akmal and he had only tailenders for support. Danish Kaneria had a brain freeze as he tried to heave one across the line from Kulasekara over the midwicket only to miss the ball completely. The ball thudded onto his back leg and the umpire had no hesitation in giving him the marching orders. Akmal tried to counterattack, but could only succeed in chopping the ball back onto his stumps. Ajmal and Aamer took the score to 299, when the former chopped one from Thushara to send his middle stump out of the ground. Thushara got his maiden five wicket haul in Test cricket with the wicket of Ajmal. Sri Lanka in reply got off to the worst possible start as they lost wicket of the first ball of their innings. Warnapura played an atrocious looking shot to a ball pitching in line with the off stump and nipping back to get himself clean bowled. That wicket seemed to rejuvenate the Pakistani fielders but then the bowlers lost the steam. Gul, barring the first wicket, and Aamer sprayed the ball around to gift Sangakkara and Paranavitana to easy runs.


To make matters worse twice, Khurram Manzoor dropped Sangakkara of Mohammad Aamer's bowling. The first chance went at face-height at gully, while the second brushed his outstretched fingertips. Younis Khan brought himself on to bowl in the sixth over and struck with his second delivery when Paranavitana misjudging the line of the ball shouldered his arms to one that swung back. On the stroke of lunch, Ajmal struck with the final ball of his second over, when he trapped Sangakkara leg before. Post-lunch, Ajmal continued to cause problems for the Lankan batsmen and Jayawardene neutralised his effectiveness by sweeping him whenever he pitched it full. Samaraweera was just getting into his groove when a jaffa from Ajmal cleaned him up. The ball pitched on the good length and spun in sharply flummoxing Samaraweera to uproot his middle stump. Three balls later he could have had Mathews had the short leg been more alert.


Mathews and Jayawardene slowly began to find their range as they began to score runs freely. Ajmal was able to get an outside edge from Mathews bat but it was dropped by Akmal and to add salt to the injury, the next ball was cut to the fence much to the disgust of the bowler. Kaneria looked very listless in his bowling and it never seemed that he would look like getting a wicket as most of the times the deliveries where either too short for the batsmen to rock back and cut or too full for them to drive. Jayawardene continued his love affair with the ground as he crossed the fifty run mark for the 33rd time in his career and was looking good for his fifth century at SSC. The pair crossed the fifty run partnership and just when it was looking to get out off hand when Kaneria who was very insipid began to play on the patience of Mathews. Mathews prodded at one spinning away from him to edge it to Misbah at slips. Jayawardene and Vaas then guided Sri Lanka to tea.


A superb spell of legspin from Danish Kaneria soon after tea earned Pakistan a 66-run lead. Mahela Jayawardene who was well set for his fifth century at the ground was cleaned up by a much improved Kaneria. A counterattacking innings from an injured Dilshan allowed Sri Lanka to get within distance of Pakistan's total. Kaneria for the thirteenth time in his career picked up five wickets in an innings. Pakistani openers had to face nine tricky overs before the close of play and the opening batsmen, Manzoor and Alam opted for a very cautious approach. Both openers negotiated the opening bowlers, Thushara and Kulasekara without any trouble. Sangakkara then tossed the ball to Herath for the ninth and final over of the day. Hearth in his fifth delivery bowled a straighter one, which sneaked through the defences of Manzoor and cannoned onto his stumps. Pakistan at close were 16 for the lose of one wicket, with 82 runs ahead.