Tharanga pads Sri Lanka lead over Pakistan
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka, Mar 28 (Reuters) Opener Upul Tharanga scored an unbeaten 64 as Sri Lanka's batsman consolidated the advantage seized by their bowlers on the third afternoon of the first test against Pakistan.
Sri Lanka reached the tea interval on 113 for one, leading by 122 runs, with Tharanga looking for his second test century and Kumar Sangakkara on 29 not out.
All rounder Farveez Maharoof and spinner Muttiah Muralitharan led a Sri Lanka revival in the morning as the tourists were bowled out for 176.
Pakistan started the day on 124 for four having bowled out Sri Lanka for a modest 185, but Maharoof and Muralitharan inspired a dramatic collapse, with six wickets falling for just 52 runs in 22.2 overs.
Maharoof claimed a career-best four for 52 to follow his valuable 46 in the first innings, while Muralitharan snared three for 41, mopping up the lower order during an unbroken two-hour spell.
Sri Lanka's comeback started early, sparked by a beautiful leg cutter from Maharoof that Inzamam-ul-Haq (31), Pakistan's best batsman, edged straight to wicket-keeper Kumar Sangakkara.
Maharoof then bowled Abdul Razzaq (eight) with another fine delivery that nipped back off the seam.
FREAKISH REFLEX Muralitharan deceived Shahid Afridi (13) with a quicker off break that knocked back his off stump and trapped Umar Gul (two) lbw after the right-hander offering no stroke.
Wicket keeper Kamran Akmal (27) resisted for over an hour before a freakish reflex catch at short leg of a full-blooded sweep from Tharanga ended the innings.
Pakistan pressed hard for wickets in a 25-minute session before lunch but finished frustrated as Sri 3Lanka's openers closed the first session on 37 without loss.
Pace bowler Mohammed Asif eventually broke through during an aggressive post-lunch spell in which he targeted Sanath Jayasuriya (13) with several short balls and eventually had the veteran caught behind.
But Tharanga, impressing with his careful shot selection and precise placement, then battled hard with Sangakkara during an unbroken 60-run second wicket partnership.
REUTERS PM DS1536