By: Abhishek Purohit (Senior Sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo)
It rained water and milestones in Galle on the third afternoon. Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene came together for their 18th century partnership in Tests, moving two short of the record of 20 set by Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar.
Sangakkara made his 37th hundred, Jayawardene his 49th fifty. It was Sangakkara’s tenth century against Pakistan, making him the seventh batsman to do so against a team. All this was squeezed into 20 overs as periodic showers ate into an extended second session, and a threatening dark cloud forced tea to be taken five minutes early. The ensuing downpour prevented any further play, washing out the remaining 44 overs.
Kaushal Silva’s fall was the only success for Pakistan on the day before the familiar partnership flourished. Sri Lanka added 75 in 26 overs in the morning session without taking much risk, and barring the odd jaffa from Saeed Ajmal, there was little encouragement for Pakistan from the placid surface. As the attack flagged in the afternoon, Sangakkara and Jayawardene took 78 at almost four an over between lunch and tea.
Ajmal, who had probed away almost through the entire first session, lost some control in the second. Abdur Rehman offered long hops often, and Sangakkara, in particular, capitalised. Both batsmen used the crease and also walked out to milk singles and twos. They watched deliveries closely and defended solidly. Jayawardene lofting a spinner over extra cover is usually a danger sign for opposition, and soon he paddled Rehman to reach fifty. Junaid Khan did ping him on the helmet with a sharp, angled bouncer, but that was against the run of play.
A few overs later, Sangakkara drove and cut the same bowler for two fours in an over to get to his fourth Test hundred this year, in addition to seven fifties, all of them over 16 innings.
The Pakistan quick bowlers tried gamely in unhelpful conditions, especially in the morning. Junaid even had Jayawardene padding up on 11, but the batsman reviewed successfully, replays showing the ball had not straightened enough and would have missed off. Mohammad Talha bowled a tight line outside off stump, and was rewarded when Silva nicked a drive to the wicketkeeper on 64, ending the second-wicket stand on 120.
Silva had been troubled the most by Ajmal. But he was quick to drive Ajmal for successive fours when the bowler was too short and too full, and was tighter against the quick bowlers. He pulled Junaid for four to reach his fifty, but was consumed by the fuller length from Talha just before drinks.
Jayawardene, given a long and loud welcome of bursting crackers in his penultimate Test, also had his nervy moments against Ajmal. He failed to read the doosra on occasion and also inside-edged past short leg but he was also prepared to take on the offspinner. He stepped out to loft him for four soon after he came in and whipped the next delivery, which went in the air, just past midwicket.
Sangakkara was more at ease against the offspinner, and a rushed single that needed him to slide in was his only moment of danger. He edged Talha past the cordon to move to fifty, but was in absolute control as he pulled Junaid in front of square to stride into the 90s. It came down to the rain to halt Sangakkara and Jayawardene. Play will start 15 minutes early on the fourth morning, but a fair chunk of this match has already been lost to bad weather.