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Sunday, September 11, 2011

Sri Lanka bats at last pull together and set up weather assisted draw: T2D4

Sri Lanka 174 & 2/223 (79ov, Sangakkara 69* , Paranavitana 55) trail Australia 7/441 dec by 14 runs with 8 second inns wickets in hand: T2D4 at Pallekele.

Michael Clarke declared at Australia's overnight score. Given the amount of time lost to weather and a none too promising forecast he had no choice (despite what some of the studio based Fox Sports commentators said).

For the first time in the series Sri Lanka didn't collapse. Captain Dilshan and Tharanga Paranavitana added 81 for the first wicket against a probing, if not as sharply menacing as we've seen previously in the series, Australian attack. Each of the four batsmen who came to the crease made at least a handy contribution, though, as the situation demanded, none of them scored at limited overs rates or took many limited overs type liberties with the bowling. Paranavitana's held on after Dilshan went at 81 for a measured 55/143b (6x4) until Mike Hussey (yes, that man again) had him caught behind. Then the two best batters in the side Kumar Sangakkara 69*/158 (8x4) and Mahela Jayawardene 38*/99 (3x4) stayed together, adding 95 until the umpires (or their finely calibrated light meters) adjudged that play should effectively end for the day.

2.82 runs an over from 79 overs on a wicket which, apart from a little turn, held few terrors for good batters both reflected both the defensive mindset of the Sri Lankans and the steadiness of the Australian bowling. Ryan Harris again made the initial breakthrough, and there were some close calls: eg Nathan Lyon sometimes pitched short yet at other times induced edges which fell just short of the close catchers (is Phil Hughes the best short leg in the team?).

So it seems probable that tomorrow the match will fizzle out into a draw. Even if Australia were to take early wickets it's hard to see there being enough time, given the weather and the umpires' zero tolerance attitude to low light, for a result to be achieved.

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