Sangakkara ton gives Sri Lanka hope of amazing win

Kumar Sangakkara says a secure start to the final day could lead to a stunning victory for Sri Lanka over Australia in the second cricket Test at Bellerive Oval on Tuesday.

Sangakkara was Sri Lanka’s batting hero on Monday with an unbeaten 109, his 15th Test hundred, as the tourists chase down a record-breaking 507 runs to level the two-match series with the world champion Australians.

At stumps on the fourth day, Sri Lanka were 260 runs away from what would be extraordinary victory at 247-3, with Sanath Jayasuriya offering Sangakkara support on 33.

Australian skipper Ricky Ponting set the Sri Lankans five sessions to get the runs, but only three teams in Test cricket history have scored more than 400 runs in the fourth innings to win, so Sri Lanka’s task remains monumental.

“You’ve got to be realistic that 507 is a massive ask but the direction in which we go tomorrow [Tuesday] is now basically up to us,” Sangakkara said.

“If we can get through to lunch tomorrow without losing a wicket, and depending on the amount of runs we get, then things can get a lot clearer, but I don’t really want to be a soothsayer and say what will happen.

“But we always go into the middle with a lot of belief and we try our best.”

Sangakkara is on the crest of wave.

“In this innings I was a bit more fluent than the first innings. In the first innings I was scratching around a bit, had a lot of luck in getting to 57 and then I was pretty cut up that I threw it away,” Sangakkara said.

“It was a lost opportunity to get more runs. Mahela [Jayawardene] showed everyone how to apply themselves and bat on that track.”

Jayawardene played virtually a lone hand in the first innings with 104 out of a total of 246.

“We know what we are up against so tomorrow is going to be one of those days where we come and we try to battle through an hour at a time and then start reassessing every time we get through a tough period,” he said.

“The bounce is just starting to get a bit lower and that’s going to be a bit of a concern for the batters, but other than that it’s pretty much playing a straight line.

“They’ll probably bowl pretty good reverse swing at the end but if we can get through that batters coming in will be confident and back themselves to get runs on this track.”

Sangakkara has confidence in veteran Jayasuriya to play a major part in Sri Lanka’s crack at Test cricket history.

“We just want him to keep batting and enjoy himself in the middle because we know that if he bats a session and a half, that takes an enormous amount of pressure off the rest of the team,” he said.

“He’s a guy who can just take attacks apart and games away single-handedly.”—AFP

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