2nd Test, Day 4: Dhananjaya’s ton puts Sri Lanka in an unassailable position against Pakistan

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Dhananjaya de Silva’s century along with vital contributions from Dimuth Karunaratne and Ramesh Mendis put Sri Lanka in a virtually unassailable position at the end of fourth day in the second Test against Pakistan at Galle International Stadium, here on Wednesday.

Chasing 508 for a win after Sri Lanka declared their second essay on 360 for 8, Pakistan were 89 for 1 at stumps on Day 4 and need 419 runs on the final day to record a historic run-chase.

It was the partnership between Dimuth Karunaratne and Dhananjaya de Silva late on day three that bailed Sri Lanka out of trouble from 117/5. On day four, the pair continued to pile on the runs as they dealt with everything Pakistan had to throw at them.

Both the batters were resolute in their defence in their opening exchanges, opting to rotate strike regularly instead of searching for boundaries. Skipper Karunaratne joined Sri Lanka’s elite 6000-run club early in the day, becoming the sixth batter from the nation to do so.

Once they got their eye in, the boundaries started to flow regularly. Dhananjaya brought up the 100-run stand for the sixth wicket with a four through mid-wicket. The very next over, Karunratne got to his 31st Test fifty. His fellow batting partner wasn’t to be left behind as he too got to the milestone a few overs later.

It needed something special to break the resolute stand and Abdullah Shafique pulled off a stunning catch at short leg to end the skipper’s resistance. Dunith Wellalage departed for 18 but a flurry of boundaries from the bat of Dhananjaya meant Sri Lanka managed to add 121 runs to their overnight score before lunch.

At the break, Sri Lanka had a lead of 444 runs but given the memorable chase of 342 Pakistan pulled off in the first Test, the hosts decided to continue batting in the afternoon session.

Dhananjaya de Silva got to his 9th Test century in style with a boundary. At the other end, Ramesh Mendis landed a few heavy blows – including three consecutive fours against Hasan Ali – to take the lead past 500. A direct hit from Yasir Shah ended the centurion’s innings as Sri Lanka finally called for a declaration, setting Pakistan a target of 508.

In reply, Pakistan started their innings with intent. Both Abdullah Shafique and Imam-ul-Haq were amongst the boundaries.

It took a great catch from Wellalage to dismiss the in-form Shafique. Despite the wicket, Pakistan maintained a healthy run rate, courtesy of the free-flowing strokes from Imam and Babar Azam, who once again walked out to bat at No.3.

The two batters ensured the Sri Lankan spinner didn’t inflict any more damage, as they batted cautiously into tea. Just as the game was approaching the final hour of play, bad light once again played spoilsport as the players were forced off the pitch. No play was possible thereafter as umpires called early stumps.

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