Sangakkara, Jayawardene lead strong Sri Lanka reply

GALLE: Kumar Sangakkara notched his 37th test century and Mahela Jayawardene crafted a fifty in his farewell series as Sri Lanka reached 252-2 on the rain-disrupted third day of the first test against Pakistan on Thursday.

Sangakkara was unbeaten on 102 and Jayawardene, who will retire after the second test, was not out on 55 before rain came down heavily at tea and ended the day’s play.

Both the seasoned Sri Lanka batsmen thwarted Pakistan’s spin duo of Saeed Ajmal and Abdul Rehman and added 108 runs for the third wicket stand after Sri Lanka resumed at the overnight 99-1.

The visitors only two successes came in the morning when fast bowler Mohammad Talha had Kaushal Silva (64) caught behind and Mohammad Junaid got U Tharanga lbw on 19.

Sangakkara reached his seventh test century in the last 14 test matches just before rain intervened and has hit 13 boundaries in his 218-ball knock. Sangakkara, the stylish 36-year-old left-hander, is now fourth on the all-time list of test century-makers with India’s Sachin Tendulkar (51), South African Jacques Kallis (45) and former Australian captain Ricky Ponting (41) ahead of him.

Rain twice intervened after lunch and allowed only 20 overs in the afternoon as Sangakkara and Jayawardene continued to dominate Pakistan bowlers without much trouble.

Ajmal, who has bowled 29 wicketless overs, was watchfully played by both batsmen and the offspinner could not find the breakthrough on a flat wicket. In between showers, Jayawardene, playing at one of his favorites grounds, completed his half century when he paddled left-arm spinner Abdul Rehman to fine leg for two runs.

Sangakkara, who has scored over 1,000 test runs this year, played some attractive drives on both sides of the wickets and raised his century off 216 balls by driving and cutting Rehman for two boundaries in one over.

Earlier, fast bowler Junaid Khan caused both seasoned batsmen some trouble after Sri Lanka lost Silva in the morning session.

Children queued up and raised their bats in a guard of honor for Jayawardene as firecrackers exploded around the Galle International Stadium when he walked out to bat. Jayawardene successfully had English umpire Ian Gould’s lbw decision overturned when he was on 11 as television replays showed the ball would have just missed the off stump after pitching in line with the stumps.

Sangakkara also escaped a confident appeal against Khan not long after – this time Pakistan went for the Decision Review System but the ball again appeared to be missing the line of off stump.

Sangakarra resumed Friday at 36 and added a further 45 runs in the first hour with Silva. Silva completed his half century when he pulled Khan to the square leg boundary and Sangakkara raised his 50 by cutting Talha through the vacant slip region to the third man boundary.

Talha finally broke the century-stand stand when Silva attempted a drive but got a thick outside edge that carried to diving wicketkeeper Ahmed Sarfraz.

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