Experienced duo shine for Sri Lanka

Having largely lacked guile in their batting, Sri Lanka's star batsmen eventually showed their worth on day one of the third Test in Sharjah.

Having largely lacked guile in their batting throughout the series, Sri Lanka's star batsmen eventually showed their worth on day one of the third Test in Sharjah.

After winning the toss and choosing to bat first, Sri Lanka recovered from the early loss of Tharanga Paranavitana (4) to post 245 for two at the close of the first day.

It seemed that what has become a familiar pattern would once again be repeated when Umar Gul got one to move across Paranavitana in the first over, squaring the batsman up before finding the edge. Younis Khan took a sharp catch in the slips to complete the good work.

But there would be no repeat of the dismal performances that have seen Sri Lankan batsmen perish oh too easily in the past. Instead, skipper Tillakaratne Dilshan and Kumar Sangakkara took control of proceedings after a brief run out scare early in their partnership.

Dilshan, who has reached double figures just once previously on the tour, had returned to the top of the order and he made the most of the change of scenery, mixing his customary aggression with good patience as the Pakistan bowlers became frustrated.

Indeed, the captain was lucky to have seen the luncheon interval after he gloved a Gul bouncer to Adnan Akmal behind the stumps as he took evasive action after deciding against a pull at the last moment. But umpire Tarapore incorrectly gave it not out.

At the other end, Sangakkara continued to impress as he has throughout the series, passing the mark of 9000 runs in Test cricket.

Having headed into tea on 170 for one, Sri Lanka lost Dilshan (92) soon after the break, well caught at slip by Khan after Saeed Ajmal had found the edge as the right-hander pushed forward.

While frustrated to have missed the three figures mark, Dilshan will no doubt be pleased to have made his first meaningful contribution of the series.

Sangakkara would not be denied his ton, bringing up his 100 off 223 balls in an eye-catching innings that included eleven fours and two sixes.

Like Dilshan, Mahela Jayawardene has flattered to deceive thus far but he two stepped up to the plate and enjoyed a 68 run partnership (of which he contributed 32) before bad light brought a slightly premature halt to proceedings.

With just two seamers in their attack, Misbah-ul-Haq was forced to make use of spin for long periods on a track that offered little assistance to the bowlers. However, the Pakistanis can take some joy from the fact that the slow scoring of their opposition means that a few quick wickets early on day two will see them back in the mix.

Sri Lanka too have two spinners at their disposal for this Test, having replaced Saranga Lakmal with Suraj Randiv. In the only other personnel change, debutant all-rounder Kosala Kulasekara came in for opener Lahiru Thirimanne.