Sri Lanka win Test series after Pakistan cave in

COLOMBO: Sri Lanka clinched their first home series against Pakistan after the temperamental tourists suffered a spectacular collapse in the second Test here on Tuesday.

Pakistan, sitting pretty at 285-1 just before lunch on the third day, crashed to 320 all out after the break to leave Sri Lanka a victory target of 171 for a decisive 2-0 lead in the three-match series.

Sri Lanka cruised home by seven wickets with two days to spare, skipper Kumar Sangakkara leading the way with a fluent 46 after opener Malinda Warnapura made 54.

Of the previous five series between the two nations on Sri Lankan soil, Pakistan had won three and drawn two, but the tourists had only themselves to blame for allowing the hosts to re-write history.

Pakistan's meek surrender against the second new ball came after debutant opener Fawad Alam hit a superb 168 and shared a record stand of 200 for the second wicket with skipper Younus Khan (82).

The partnership was Pakistan's highest for the second wicket against Sri Lanka, surpassing the 151 by Mohsin Khan and Majid Khan at Lahore in 1982.

The 23-year-old Alam batted for more than six hours to amass the highest score by a Pakistani batsman on Sri Lankan soil, surpassing the 151 by Salim Malik in 1997.

But Pakistan lost their last nine wickets for 35 runs, their third successive collapse in the series that highlighted their reputation as one of the most unpredictable sides in modern cricket.

Pakistan had seen eight wickets fall for 46 runs on the fourth morning of the Galle Test when just 97 more were needed to win the match.

The tourists then crumbled for a paltry 90 in 36 overs on the first day of this Test after electing to bat on a wicket that provided assistance to the seam bowlers.

Sri Lanka did not feel the absence of star spinner Muttiah Muralitharan, out of action with a knee injury, as left-arm slow bowler Rangana Herath claimed 5-99 and seamer Nuwan Kulasekera took 4-37.

"It was a very special win," said Sangakkara, leading Sri Lanka for the first time in a Test series after taking over from Mahela Jayawardene.

"These were two very absorbing Test matches. The key for us was that whenever we needed someone to step up, someone put their hand up.

"Kulasekara and Herath were fantastic. There was not much in the pitch but it shows what you can do if you have heart and are willing to bend your back."

Pakistan's Younus, whose team defeated Sri Lanka in the World Twenty20 final in England last month, lamented the frequent batting collapses in the series.

"It's happened to us three times in this series and that can't win us matches," he said. "It's mainly due to the fact that we do not play enough Test cricket these days.

"But I must complement Fawad for an outstanding display. He has batted in the middle order all his life, but he did not hesitate to open the innings when I suggested that to him.

"We fought hard in both Tests but I think we fell short by 100 runs here. I am confident we will put up a good show in the third Test."

Younus himself had triggered the collapse just before lunch when he gifted his wicket, top-edging an ambitious reverse sweep off part-time spinner Tharanga Paranavitana to the wicket-keeper.

Sangakkara's gamble to hand the new ball to spinner Herath, man of the match at Galle, paid off handsomely as he trapped Mohammad Yousuf leg-before with his second delivery.

The third and final Test starts at the Sinhalese sports club on July 20.