Sri Lanka strike early in Sharjah


Two wickets before the close gave Sri Lanka the initiative on day two of the third Test against Pakistan in Sharjah.

Two wickets before the close gave Sri Lanka the initiative on day two of the third Test against Pakistan in Sharjah.

Having seen Sri Lanka post 413 in their first knock, Pakistan faced a tricky 20-over period before the end of the day's play and walked away from it badly wounded, having stuttered to 35 for two.

Mohammad Hafeez (six) was the first to go, caught brilliantly by Mahela Jayawardene. Pushing away from his body, the right-hander edged the ball to the right of Jayawardene at third slip and for a period it seemed destined for the third man fence before the fielder dived to his right and snaffled a tough catch.

After a positive start, Taufeeq Umar (19) too was sent packing. This time it was the spin of Herath that did the damage, drawing the batsman forward and beating him before Kaushal Silva whipped off the bails with Taufeeq's toe dragged out of the crease.

At one stage earlier in the day it didn't look like Sri Lanka would pass the 400 mark, despite starting the day in the comfortable position of 245 for two.

The combination of poor support for Kumar Sangakkara and a frustratingly slow scoring rate left the visitors requiring a lower-order surge to see them post a strong total.

Mahela Jayawardene (39) was the first to go in the morning but in fairness he was unlucky to do so. While umpire Tarapore made some slightly curious decisions on day one, it was Simon Taufel who will be left disappointed with his decision in this case.

Junaid Khan delivered one short of a length that jagged back at Jayawrdene, striking him on the thigh pad. It looked for all money to be going over the top, but Taufel disagreed, and with no Decision Review System in place, the number four was sent on his way.

Angelo Mathews (17) forged out a curious innings, scoring at a snail's pace before some extra spin and bounce from Abdur Rehman saw him edge behind in the final over before lunch.

All the while, Sangakkara progressed cautiously at the other end, adding just 32 to his overnight score despite seeing out the entire first session and the start of the second.

Saeed Ajmal was the man to claim the all important scalp of the Sri Lankan number three as he got one to turn sharply, causing Sangakkara to top edge an attempted pull to Younis Khan at slip. It was a frustrating end for Sangakkara who at times earlier in the day had berated himself for losses of concentration.

Debutant Kosala Kulasekara (15) and Dhammika Prasad (17) started promisingly only to fall just as they appeared settled, and it was left to Rangana Herath to add some quick runs.

With 'keeper Kaushal Silva (39) providing a good foil, Herath added an invaluable 34 off 35 before he eventually ran out of partners.