x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Sangakkara's fine finish

His century ensures third Test ends in draw and Sri Lanka's captain is thrilled with achieving 2-0 series win despite being without injured Muralitharan.

Kumar Sangakkara hit an unbeaten century to steer Sri Lanka to a draw in the third Test against Pakistan yesterday to cap his first victorious series as captain in style. The left-hander made 130 not out as Sri Lanka, faced with a world record target of 492, defied the Pakistani bowlers to finish with 391 for four on the fifth day at the Sinhalese sports club.

Rock solid Sangakarra's 19th Test century featured a fourth-wicket stand of 122 with Thilan Samaraweera (73) and 114 for the unbroken fifth with Angelo Mathews (64 not out). Sri Lanka won the three-match series 2-0, their first at home against Pakistan after five unsuccessful attempts, and provided Sangakkara with a winning start as captain after he took over from Mahela Jayawardene in April. Sangakkara hung on for nearly seven hours on a placid pitch to frustrate Pakistan's bid to record a face-saving win ahead of the five-match one-day series starting at Dambulla on Thursday.

The two teams went into the last session of the match with Sri Lanka needing 154 runs from a possible 38 overs to record a record-breaking win and Pakistan requiring six wickets. The final session provided dull cricket from both sides as the batsmen plodded along and the bowlers set defensive fields to prevent the run-rate going up. Play was finally called off when 15 overs remained with Sri Lanka needing a further 101 runs.

Sangakkara said he was delighted to win the series despite the absence of world bowling record holder Muttiah Muralitharan due to a knee injury. "To win without Murali was really very special," he said. "We missed Murali really badly, but it showed the character of the young guys who came in." Sangakkara said he decided against chasing the record target because of the injured Tillakaratne Dilshan, who sustained a broken finger while keeping wicket and then had a cut above the left eyebrow while batting earlier in the match.

"If Dilshan was fit and we had a few more runs before tea, we would have considered going for a win, but I think we made the right decision in the end," he said. Pakistan captain Younus Khan said: "Sangakkara played very well. We just could not do anything to get him out." * AFP