Ton-up Sangakkara keeps Sri Lanka afloat

COLOMBO: Sri Lanka's captain Kumar Sangakkara hit an unbeaten century to dim Pakistan's hopes of securing a face-saving win in the third and final cricket Test here on Friday.

The left-hander was 111 not out as Sri Lanka, faced with a world record target of 492 to sweep the series 3-0, moved to 338-4 by tea 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 61 for the unbroken fifth with Angelo Mathews (33 not out).

The two teams go into the final 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.

No team has achieved this high a target in the fourth innings to win a Test match. The highest successful chase so far is 418-7 by the West Indies against Australia in Antigua in 2003.

The hosts appeared in no hurry to force a victory after scoring 76 runs from 26 overs in the post-lunch session.

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.

Sri Lanka suffered a setback soon after lunch when Samaraweera strained a hamstring while taking a single and called for a runner.

The injury did not seem to bother him as he hit the first ball from pace bowler Mohammad Aamer for a boundary, but then was smashed on the helmet by a rising ball later in the same over.

Samaraweera was dismissed in the following over when he failed to read a straight ball from off-spinner Saeed Ajmal and nicked an easy catch to wicket-keeper Kamran Akmal.

It was the first time in the Test series that play extended into the fifth day after the tourists lost the first Test in four days and the second in three.

Sangakkara and Samaraweera 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 Umar Gul to the cover fence and executing another perfect off-drive from the last ball of the over.