By BV Swagath
Stumps on Day 3: The SSC Test is meandering towards a meaningless draw as the crucial third day’s play saw two full sessions getting washed out by heavy rain. The Test match has hardly moved forward on Day 3 with Pakistan declaring its first innings at 551/6 and then managing to take just the one Sri Lankan wicket in 15 overs. The only team that can win the Test from the start of Day 2 has been Pakistan and they are now left with just two days in which they need to take 15 more wickets which is highly unrealistic.
With the post lunch and the post tea sessions washed out without a single ball bowled, Day 3 saw just the 27.4 overs of action! Play was due to start at 3:45 PM after the groundstaff had done everything for a restart but unfortunately rain returned again and this time the Umpires had no option but to call off play for the day.
Lunch on Day 3: Sri Lanka recovered nicely after an early blow to reach 70 for 1 in 15 overs by lunch on the third day’s play. It wasn’t easy for the Sri Lankans as the Pakistani new ball bowlers found movement and bounce unlike their counterparts. Tharanga Paravitana was consumed by one such bouncy and nippy delivery from Junaid Khan which had him fending it off into the hands of shortleg for a 12-ball duck.
After losing Paranavitana in the 4th over, Sri Lanka got back on track nicely thanks to an unbroken stand between Tillakaratne Dilshan (46* from 54 balls with 9 fours) and Kumar Sangakkara (22* from 24 balls).
Earlier, Pakistan declared its first innings at 551 for 6 leaving Sri Lanka about an hour and 20 minutes to bat before lunch. Skipper Misbah-ul-Haq helped himself to an unbeaten 66 (from 80 balls with 5 fours). Pakistan lost two wickets today – Asad Shafiq (2) run out by a direct hit from Dilshan and Adnan Akmal (5) spooning a drive into the hands of covers off Herath’s bowling.
Build Up to Day 3: With almost half of the second day’s play rained out, Pakistan will be looking to declare their first innings as soon as possible and have a crack at the Sri Lankans. We are left with just the three days in this match for a result with Pakistan needing 20 Sri Lankan wickets for a win. Sri Lanka are in a position where they can only draw the match or lose it from here.
Although, play is going to start on time on Day 3, the weather could be unpredictable with rain likely to make a visit anytime.