Dhananjaya de Silva 84* extends Sri Lanka’s lead to 444 by lunch on day four

Lunch Sri Lanka 378 and 297 for 7 (Dhananjaya 84*, R Mendis 8*, Naseem 2-36, Nawaz 2-52) lead Pakistan 231 by 444 runs

Dhananjaya de Silva pressed Sri Lanka’s lead into truly enormous territory, getting to 84 in 143 balls by lunch, as the team moved 444 runs ahead. The centrepiece of Sri Lanka’s innings was the 126-run sixth-wicket stand between de Silva and Dimuth Karunaratne, who battled through a back sprain to 61.
Karunaratne was one of two batters to fall in the session, the other being debutant Dunith Wellalage, both of them to fingerspin. Already, Pakistan would have to break Test records to win this match. However, their chasing down of 342 in the first Test will perhaps prompt conservatism from Sri Lanka, who did not appear ready to declare their innings closed yet. In any case, de Silva will likely be given the chance to complete a hundred, with five sessions still to play.

There was a little luck for de Silva in the second over of the day, when the inside edge off his attempted cut shot against the bowling of Hasan Ali, passed close to his stumps. But although the scoring rate was modest while the quicks (Naseem Shah opened from the other end) were in operation, the runs began to flow more freely when the spinners came on.

This was not before Karunaratne survived a very close lbw shout playing back to Nauman Ali’s first delivery of the day, which turned back sharply from outside off. The umpire’s call on impact saved Karunaratne, who was batting on 42.

De Silva used the sweep to excellent effect, once slogging Yasir Shah over midwicket for four, while Karunaratne used the reverse sweep to access empty space behind point. Largely, though, the batters preferred to use their feet to find the single options. Karunaratne brought up his half century off the 97th ball he faced; de Silva off his 102nd, two overs later.

Karunaratne was out to Nauman not long after that, though. Having just come down the pitch and lifted him over midwicket for four, he attempted to turn a length delivery square, and ended up only middling the ball to Abdullah Shafique at short square leg, who took an excellent reflex catch low to his left.

Dunith Wellalage did not appear particularly comfortable during his 34-ball stay, and was eventually out edging behind, attempting a reverse sweep of Mohammad Nawaz. He had not got to near the pitch of that delivery. De Silva continued alongside Ramesh Mendis, the last decent battin in Sri Lanka’s lineup.

With the pitch not yet spitting, Pakistan’s bowlers did not build up big periods of pressure in the session. The quicks perhaps, were underused after they had both delivered good early spells. Of the spinners, Nawaz was the tightest again, and the bowler who most frequently beat the bat.

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