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Pakistan stormed back into the reckoning late on Day 4 of the second test after a massive 225 run partnership between Tillakaratne Dilshan (121) and Kumar Sangakkara (144*) had threatened to take the game away from the visitors. Pakistan, who are currently trailing 1-0 in this three match series, took 4 wickets for 42 runs in the final session to leave their hosts in a spot of bother at 278-5, despite the presence of Kumar Sangakkara at the crease, rapidly approaching his 150. Sri Lanka still need 74 runs to avoid the follow-on, and the opening session of the final day could be a tense one for the Islanders. While a draw still appears to be the most likely outcome of this game, Pakistan have set the cat among the pigeons, and there could be some rude shocks for Sri Lanka tomorrow.
The opening session on the fourth day of the second cricket test between Sri Lanka and Pakistan at Colombo belonged to the hosts as they continued to score freely, adding another 65 runs without the loss of any wickets before rain brought an early end to proceedings.
Resuming from their overnight score of 70-1, the Sri Lankan batsmen powered on in the morning with both Tillakaratne Dilshan and Kumar Sangakkara bringing up their half-centuries in double quick time. Yesterday's rain had done nothing to spice up the state of the pitch, and an ultra flat batting paradise greeted the two veteran batsmen.
While Dilshan was more studious in his approach once he passed his fifty, Sangakkara was a free-wheeling cavalcade, scoring runs with the panache of a batsmen who had accumulated more than 2000 of those at this very venue.
At the end of a rain shortened session, the Lankans were still 217 runs shy of avoiding the follow-on, but with only 7 wickets having fallen in 186 overs, the chance that another 19 would fall over the next 4 and a bit sessions was exceptionally unlikely.
Two and a half hours after an lunch was taken, play finally resumed with an hour's play set aside before tea.
The shortened second session mimicked the first with Dilshan and Sangakkara continuing to score runs at a steady pace, edging closer to their respective centuries in the process. The Pakistani bowlers rarely threatened, and the result looked set to be a foregone conclusion.
Both batsmen eventually brought up their centuries shortly after tea, but the tide finally appeared to turn towards Pakistan with Junaid Khan picking up his second wicket of the match by trapping Dilshan in front of the stumps for 121.
The wicket of Dilshan appeared to open the floodgates, and Mahela Jayawardene and Thilan Samaraweera both fell for ducks within the space of a few overs, leg before once again to Junaid Khan and Saeed Ajmal respectively.
Suraj Randiv was sent in the nightwatchman to accompany Sangakkara through to the close of play, but the offspinner failed to survive either, falling on what was as a result the last ball of the day, trapped in front of the stumps by Abdur Rehman for 5.
Despite Sri Lanka's late collapse, the hosts are still expected to come out of the second test with their series lead very much intact, and unless they have a calamitous couple of sessions, it should be business as usual tomorrow.
Sri Lanka: T Dilshan, T Paranavitana, K Sangakkara, M Jayawardene (c), T Samaraweera, A Mathews, P Jayawardene (wk), N Kulasekara, N Pradeep, R Herath, S Randiv
Pakistan: T Umar, M Hafeez, Y Khan, Misbah-ul-Haq (c), A Ali, A Shafiq, A Akmal (wk), A Rehman, S Ajmal, A Cheema, J Khan
Pakistan 1st Innings 551/6 declared (147 overs, 3.74 rpo)
M Hafeez 196(331) R Herath 2-164
A Ali 157(295) A Mathews 1-55
Sri Lanka 1st Innings 278/5 (85.4 overs, 3.24 rpo)
T Dilshan 121 (195) J Khan 3-56
K Sangakkara 144* (254) S Ajmal 1-77
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