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An unknown schoolboy off spinner called Akila Dhananjaya who failed to make it into the Sri Lanka Under 19 for the forthcoming Under 19 World Cup or the Sri Lanka A Team has stunningly been called up for the Sri Lanka’s 30-man preliminary squad for the ICC World T20 to be held in Sri Lanka in two-months’ time. 

Thursday, 12 July 2012 08:09

Sri Lanka need 270 after Shafiq century

Pakistan may have scored enough to prompt Sri Lanka to play for a draw after the hosts, already 1-0 up in the series, failed to finish off the Pakistan innings early on the final day. Asad Shafiq marched towards his second Test century and Adnan Akmal, batting with a hairline fracture on his left ring finger, bravely kept them at bay for more than 28 overs, stretching Pakistan's lead to 269 and leaving Sri Lanka with 71 overs to bat.

Sri Lanka have only chased more than 200 to win twice in Tests, though the pitch under sunny skies in Pallekele didn't show any major signs of threat. The movement for the seamers was negligible, and same with the spin for Rangana Herath.

It helped Pakistan that Sri Lanka only attacked from one end. Shafiq batted calmly, his task made easier by the fact that Sri Lanka employed a spread field when he was on strike. He initially tried to protect Akmal, refusing singles, but ultimately showed no hesitation in turning the strike over, as Akmal proved he was more than capable at blocking one end.

Shafiq had a fielder in the deep in the V, and two near the boundary square of the wicket, and he comfortably worked the ball around for singles, twos and also dispatched a full toss from Dilhara Fernando for a boundary through midwicket. Akmal defended well, felt the pain when the ball hit the bat hard but stuck it out, playing spin with more ease, even reverse-sweeping Herath for a four.

Following the first hour, with a clear message from the dressing room to step it up, Akmal repeated that shot and Shafiq slog-swept Herath for four more. Amid a spate of singles picked through square leg, midwicket and in the in-field on the off side, Shafiq also thrashed Thisara Perera through long-off and deep extra cover, before getting a top-edge to the fine-leg boundary. He brought up his century half an hour before lunch, immediately prompting Misbah-ul-Haq to declare the innings.

Seventy-one overs in conditions favouring batsmen, against a line-up that bats deep, left the visitors with a stiff task of forcing a victory and levelling the series. However, with their seamers, led by Junaid Khan, bowling flat out, the hosts were under pressure to survive that attack. Pakistan did sense a chance with Tharanga Paranavitana on strike, as he chased a wide delivery from Umar Gul to be beaten first ball, then getting a leading edge past gully against an away-going delivery.

Junaid didn't take long to go round the wicket to the right-hander, Dinesh Chandimal's tendency to shuffle across and fall over giving the bowler a healthy chance of an lbw. But Chandimal middle the ball well, his natural inclination to attack taking over. He slashed Gul through point, drove him down the ground and pulled him through square leg, all in the over before lunch to mark a positive start.

Mark Webber stole victory from Fernando Alonso in the dying moments of the FIA Formula One British Grand Prix, taking the lead with four laps to go and finishing a mere three seconds ahead of the Ferrari.

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