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Sri Lanka facing uphill task

PAKISTAN spinner Danish Kaneria picked up two wickets to jolt Sri Lanka's record victory chase as the hosts closed yesterday's fourth day of the third test on 183-3, needing 309 more runs on the final day with seven wickets in hand.

Pakistan declared its second innings at 425-9 shortly after the lunch break on day four in Colombo, and with a 66-run lead from the first innings it set a world record 492-run target for Sri Lanka to win the final test and sweep the series 3-0.

Sri Lanka made a strong start to the run chase before two late scalps put Pakistan back in charge.

Sri Lanka openers Tharanga Paranavitana and Malinda Warnapura put on 83 before Kaneria broke through, with Warnapura (31) caught by Shoaib Malik at leg-slip.

Then captain Kumar Sangakkara joined Paranavitana in a valuable 56-run partnership before Paranavitana (72) was snapped up by Fawad Alam at forward short-leg off the bowling of Malik. Paranavitana faced 126 balls and hit five boundaries.

Former skipper Mahela Jayawardene (2) - top scorer in the first innings - was caught soon after by wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal off Kaneria.

Sangakkara remained unbeaten on 50, his 32nd test half-century, with Thilan Samaraweera on 20.

If Sri Lanka wins this match it will take the record for the highest run chase to win a test. West Indies currently holds the record for reaching the highest fourth-innings target, 418-7 against Australia in Antigua six years ago.

Pakistan elected to bat on after lunch for just 11 minutes, adding 15 runs before declaring.

Malik was the star of Pakistan's second innings, scoring 134 and anchoring three key partnerships that lifted Pakistan from a vulnerable 67-4. He spent more than six hours at the crease and faced 240 balls, hitting 12 fours and two sixes.

Resuming the fourth day on 300-5, the visitors lost overnight batsman Akmal for 74 when he was caught by Jayawardene at slip off seam bowler Nuwan Kulasekera. Akmal's dismissal ended a record 133-run partnership for the sixth wicket between the two countries. His brisk innings came off just 80 balls and included eight fours and a six.

Malik contributed to a valuable 52-run stand with tailender Umar Gul, who was caught at long-off by substitute Suranga Lakmal off spinner Rangana Herath. Gul's quickfire 46 was his highest test score.


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