Kumar Sangakkara hit an unbeaten century to steer Sri Lanka to a draw in the final Test against Pakistan yesterday and win his first series as captain.
The left-hander made 130 not out as Sri Lanka, faced with a world record target of 492, defied the Pakistani bowlers to finish with 391-4 on the fifth day at the Sinhalese sports club.
The rock solid Sangakarra’s 19th Test century featured a fourth-wicket stand of 122 with Thilan Samaraweera (73) and 114 for the unbroken fifth with Angelo Mathews (64 not out).
Sri Lanka clinched the series 2-0, their first at home against Pakistan after five unsuccessful attempts, and provided Sangakkara with a winning start as captain after he took over from Mahela Jayawardene in April.
Sangakkara hung on for nearly seven hours on a placid pitch to frustrate Pakistan’s bid to record a face-saving win ahead of the five-match one-day series starting at Dambulla on Thursday.
The highest successful chase so far in a Test is 418-7 by the West Indies against Australia in Antigua in 2003.
The two teams went into the last session of the match with Sri Lanka needing 154 runs from a possible 38 overs to record a record-breaking win and Pakistan requiring six wickets.
The hosts gave an indication they would prefer to settle for a draw when they made just 76 runs from 26 overs in the two hours after lunch.
The final session, watched by some 3,000 home fans, provided dull cricket from both sides as the batsmen plodded along and the bowlers set defensive fields to ensure the run-rate did not pick up.
Play was finally called off when 15 overs remained with Sri Lanka needing a further 101 runs.
It was the first time in the series that play went into the fifth day after the tourists lost the first Test in four days and were routed in the second in three.
Sangakkara and Samaraweera, who resumed the day at 183-3, batted through the morning session to take Sri Lanka to 262 without further loss by lunch.
The pair made a cautious start in the morning, scoring 50 runs in 21 overs before Pakistan captain Younus Khan took the second new ball as soon as it was due in the 81st over.
Samaraweera welcomed the change by driving the first delivery from pace bowler Umar Gul to the cover fence and executing another perfect off-drive from the last ball of the over.
He was dismissed when he failed to read a straight ball from off-spinner Saeed Ajmal and nicked an easy catch to wicket-keeper Kamran Akmal.