COLOMBO: Kumar Sangakkara, the fifth-highest run-scorer in Test history, was dismissed for 18 in his last international innings yesterday to leave Sri Lanka in trouble in the second Test against India. The hosts, set a tough victory target of 413, slumped to 33-2 after Sangakkara’s dismissal before closing the fourth day’s play at 72-2 at Colombo’s P. Sara Oval. Opener Dimuth Karunaratne was on 25 and skipper Angelo Mathews was on 23. Sri Lanka begin the final day’s play on Monday needing 341 more to win with eight wickets in hand. India, looking to level the three-match series after losing the first Test in Galle, declared their second innings at 325-8 in the post-tea session after Ajinkya Rahane top-scored with 126. It left the hosts facing a little less that four sessions to achieve the huge target or bat out for a draw on a slow, wearing pitch that should favour India’s spinners.
The highest successful fourth-innings run chase at the venue is 352-9 by the hosts against South Africa in 2006. Sangakkara did not have to wait long to bat after Sri Lanka lost opener Kaushal Silva in the third over, tapping a full toss from Ravichandran Ashwin to the short midwicket fielder. A full house of some 7,000 home fans applauded warmly as Sangakkara was welcomed to the crease by two guards of honorone formed by young children with raised bats near the boundary and another by Indian fielders.
He hit three boundaries but fell to Ashwin for the fourth time in as many innings in the series when he edged a catch to Murali Vijay off the 18th ball he faced. Sangakkara finished with 12,400 runs from 134 Tests at an average of 57.40. He scored 38 centuries including a best of 319 against Bangladesh in Chittagong last year. The Sri Lankan great follows Sachin Tendulkar of India, Ricky Ponting of Australia, Jacques Kallis of South Africa and Rahul Dravid of India in the all-time list of leading Test scorers. Rahane anchored the Indian innings before being dismissed shortly before tea for 126, his fourth Test century that was studded with 10 boundaries. Rahane put on 140 for the second wicket with Vijay (82) and 85 for the fourth with his Mumbai team-mate Rohit Sharma (34).
Rahane said India must be patient on the final day to claim the remaining eight wickets. “I think the match is poised pretty well,” he said. “Through the four days we have played some good cricket but we need to stay in the present. “Tomorrow we will take it one wicket at a time. The key will be to stay patient. The pitch is getting slower. There will be some partnerships but one good session for us can win us the Test.” Dhammika Prasad, who took four wickets in India’s second innings, said Sri Lanka had not given up hope of giving Sangakkara a winning farewell. “If we can win this game, that is the best gift we can give him,” said Prasad. “To go out with a win is the best farewell anyone can get.” Prasad said he was fortunate to have played with Sri Lankan greats like Muttiah Muralitharan, Mahela Jayawardene and Sangakkara. “These are the three best cricketers from Sri Lanka,” he said. “I gave them a lot of respect. Hopefully I will be able to do that again tomorrow for Sanga, if the need arises.” Indian wicket-keeper Wriddhiman Saha, whose suffered a hamstring strain while batting, did not take the field in Sri Lanka’s second innings. Rahul kept wicket in his absence.—AFP