Kumar Sangakkara and Prasanna Jayawardene defied Pakistan for six hours, batting almost till tea on the final day to earn a draw for Sri Lanka. After losing five wickets on the fourth evening while still needing 81 runs to make Pakistan bat again, Sri Lanka benefited from six dropped chances in the second innings. Pakistan's bowlers toiled as much as the heat allowed them to, but their effectiveness was blunted by an unyielding pitch, abysmal catching and resolute batting. Both Sangakkara and Jayawardene achieved personal landmarks, with the former reaching his eighth Test double-century, putting him behind only Don Bradman and Brian Lara.
The sixth-wicket partnership between Sangakkara and Jayawardene - easily the highest for Sri Lanka against Pakistan - ate away whatever advantage remained with Pakistan after yesterday's five dropped chances. Azhar Ali finally ended Pakistan's despair after 73 fruitless overs, trapping Sangakkara leg-before with a legbreak just before tea. Aizaz Cheema had Jayawardene caught behind with the third new ball but it was too late to make up for the largesse of all those missed chances in a match affected by some average umpiring from Tony Hill. Umar Gul cleaned up the tail, leaving Pakistan an improbable 170 to get in 21 overs. Pakistan's top order did not give the slightest impression of going for it, and the game was called off after ten rather pointless overs as Tillakaratne Dilshan let the game meander beyond the start of the final hour.
Sri Lanka could afford to indulge in such psychological banter after Sangakkara and Jayawardene had carried them to safety, the slowness of the pitch allowing them to defend without much trouble. Sangakkara - who had looked near-immoveable after a couple of reprieves yesterday - allowed Jayawardene to take charge, but still put the loose ones away, reaching 200 with a nudge to the fine leg boundary off Cheema in the 143rd over. Jayawardene lofted Ajmal for a straight boundary in the 148th over to bring up a potentially match-saving century after having got a duck in the first innings. Not at any stage did they show even a hint of getting bogged down, unlike batsmen from both teams in the first innings.
Jayawardene, dropped by Wahab Riaz on 11 last evening, was much more positive today, breaking free with a swept boundary when Saeed Ajmal tried to tie him down early with two fielders around square leg. A tiring Junaid Khan - who had kept charging in with energy and going past the outside edge - was pulled emphatically over midwicket.
Pakistan's frustration slowly turned into resignation, a shame given the way they dominated this game for four days, apart from their fielding, which ruined the untiring efforts of their bowlers in the end. As in the first innings, Cheema epitomised Pakistan's willingness to give it everything on a pitch which held up so well in the heat, it could have been good for five more days.
An over from Cheema, the 137th of the innings, told Pakistan's tale of luckless perseverance. After four testing deliveries, Cheema bowled a loopy slow delivery that completely befuddled Jayawardene outside off stump. A ripping reverse-swinging yorker followed but Jayawardene somehow managed to dig it out, almost falling over. The unwavering Cheema was back in his next over with another slower ball followed by another accurate yorker, only to be denied without fuss by Jayawardene. This after Cheema had been denied by umpire Tony Hill after hitting Jayawardene on the pads right after lunch.
Azhar's unexpected strike at the stroke of tea brought relief for Pakistan and they eventually got through the tail with the third new ball but not before Rangana Herath had been grassed by Gul at extra cover, the sixth drop of the innings. Herath stretched the innings till 168 overs, leaving Pakistan to rue their generosity on the field and in hindsight, their cautious approach with the bat in the first innings.