Kumar Sangakkara off into sunset as Sri Lanka face massive climb
The hosts, set a tough victory target of 413, slumped to 33-2 after Sangakkara’s dismissal before closing the fourth day’s play at 72-2 at the P Sara Oval.
Opener Dimuth Karunaratne was on 25 and skipper Angelo Mathews was on 23. Sri Lanka begin the final day’s play on Monday needing 341 more to win with eight wickets in hand.
India, looking to level the three-match series after losing the first Test in Galle, declared their second innings at 325-8 in the post-tea session after Ajinkya Rahane top-scored with 126.
It left the hosts facing a little less than four sessions to achieve the huge target or bat out for a draw on a slow, wearing pitch that should favour India’s spinners.
The highest successful fourth-innings run chase at the venue is 352-9 by the hosts against South Africa in 2006.
Sangakkara, the fifth highest run-getter in Test history, did not have to wait long to bat after Sri Lanka lost opener Kaushal Silva in the third over, tapping a full toss from Ravichandran Ashwin to the short mid-wicket fielder.
A full house of some 7,000 home fans applauded warmly as Sangakkara was welcomed to the crease by two guards of honour – one formed by young children with raised bats near the boundary and another by Indian fielders.
Sangakkara hit three boundaries but fell to Ashwin for the fourth time in as many innings in the series when he edged a catch to Murali Vijay off the 18th ball he faced.
Sangakkara finished with 12,400 runs from 134 Tests at an average of 57.40. He scored 38 centuries including a best of 319 against Bangladesh in Chittagong last year.
The Sri Lankan great follows Sachin Tendulkar of India, Ricky Ponting of Australia, Jacques Kallis of South Africa and Rahul Dravid of India in the all-time list of leading Test scorers.
The Indian fielders shook hands with Sangakkara as he walked off for one last time to a standing ovation from the crowd.
“Thank you for all the love,” Sangakkara wrote on his twitter feed @KumarSanga2 soon after play ended. “Been my privilege to play for my country and in front of all the fans.”
Tendulkar, who retired in 2013, tweeted: “Well played @KumarSanga2. You have been a terrific ambassador for the game and a thorough gentleman. Warm welcome to the club of the retired!”
Former teammate Mahela Jayawardene, with whom Sangakkara shared a world record partnership of 624 against South Africa in 2006, said he was proud of his close friend’s achievements.
“It wasn’t to be in this match but what he was for Sri Lanka cricket is something that you can’t take away. Very proud of you mate,” Jayawardene wrote.
Rahane anchored the Indian innings before being dismissed shortly before tea for 126, his fourth Test century that was studded with 10 boundaries.
The Mumbai batsman and Vijay (82) added 140 for the second wicket to boost the total after Lokesh Rahul had fallen off the fifth ball of the innings on Saturday evening.
Vijay hit four boundaries and two sixes, but missed his seventh Test century when he attempted to sweep off-spinner Tharindu Kaushal and was adjudged leg-before soon after the morning drinks break.
Kaushal then trapped captain Virat Kohli leg-before for 10, but Rohit Sharma (34) helped Rahane add 85 for the fourth wicket.
Kaushal removed Rohit and Rahane in successive overs as India slipped from 256-3 to 262-5.
Rohit pulled a short ball to Jehan Mubarak on the mid-wicket fence and Rahane’s 243-ball vigil ended when he edged a catch to wicket-keeper Dinesh Chandimal.
Wriddhiman Saha retired hurt with a hamstring strain after making five, but returned to bat at the fall of the seventh wicket and remained unbeaten on 13. He did not take the field, leaving Rahul to keep wicket.
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Published: August 23, 2015 04:00 AM