By Sa’adi Thawfeeq
Kumar Sangakkara’s final innings in Test cricket was without any fanfare. He came out to bat to a guard of honour provided at his entry to the ground by schoolboys of his alma mater Trinity College and then by the Indian team. However his stay in the middle was shortlived. He scored 18 at a run a ball in a stay of 29 minutes before edging a Ravichandran Ashwin delivery to gully. It was the fourth time in as many innings in the series that Ashwin had dismissed the great man. It was a sad ending to an outstanding career which had made Sangakkara the leading run-scorer in Test cricket for his country. He left the international cricket field for the last time closing the chapter to what has been an amazing career which few would dare try to emulate.
Sri Lanka facing a challenging target of 413 for victory closed the fourth day of the second Test on 72 for twq wickets, still adrift by 341 runs with eight second innings wickets intact. The pitch has slowed down and shot making is not all that easy which makes Sri Lanka’s chance of chasing down such a big target twice the task than on a normal surface.
They got off to the worst possible start losing opener Kaushal Silva for one in the third over which brought Sangakkara to the wicket earlier than was expected. But once he departed the spectators gradually started to vacate their seats for they had all come to see the final innings of a cricketing icon.
At 33-2 Sri Lanka were not too happily placed, but Angelo Mathews (23) promoting himself to no. 4 and Dimuth Karunaratne (25) badly in need of a big score behind him negotiated the remaining overs to see Sri Lanka through without any further mishap.
The final day is a challenge for the Lankan team to either save the match or try and win it so that they give Sangakkara a memorable farewell from international cricket. Two of Sangakkara’s former team mates Muthiah Muralitharan in 2010 and Mahela Jayawardene in 2014 both retired from the game on a winning note. Sangakkara does not deserve anything less.
India extended their tea score of 283-5 to 325-8 before Kohli finally thought he had enough runs for his bowlers to bowl Sri Lanka out and try and level the three-match series one-all.
The President and Prime Minister of Sri Lanka are expected to grace the occasion on the fifth and final day and present mementos to Sangakkara.
INDIA 1ST INNINGS 393
SRI LANKA 1ST INNINGS 306
INDIA 2ND INNINGS
M Vijay lbw b Kaushal 82
L Rahul b Prasad 2
A Rahane c Chandimal b Kaushal 126
V Kohli lbw b Kaushal 10
R Sharma c Mubarak b Kaushal 34
S Binny c Thirimanne b Prasad 17
W Saha not out 13
R Ashwin c Chandimal b Prasad 19
A Mishra c Mubarak b Prasad 18
U Yadav not out 4
Extras (lb-4, nb-1, w-3) 8
Total (8 wickets decl., 91 overs) 325
Fall of wickets: 1-3 (Rahul), 2-143 (Vijay), 3-171 (Kohli), 4-256 (R Sharma), 5-262 (Rahane), 6-283 (Binny), 7-311 (Ashwin), 8-318 (Mishra).
Bowling: Prasad 15-0-43-4 (nb1), Herath 29-4-96-0, Chameera 14-0-63-0 (w3), Mathews 2-1-1-0, Kaushal 21—1-118-4.
SRI LANKA 2ND INNINGS
K Silva c Binny b Ashwin 1
D Karunaratne not out 25
K Sangakkara c Vijay b Ashwin 18
A Mathews not out 23
Extras (lb-4, nb-1) 5
Total (2 wickets at close, 21 overs) 72
Fall of wickets: 1-8 (Silva), 2-33 (Sangakkara).
Bowling: Ashwin 10-5-27-2, Yadav 2-0-10-0, I Sharma 4-0-18-0 (nb1), Mishra 5-1-13-0.