Dharmasena to the rescue

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Kumara Dharmasena rescued Sri Lanka with a dogged, unbeaten half-century as they reached 217 for 7 on the opening day of the decisive third Test against Pakistan in Sialkot yesterday.

The off-spinner Dharmasena hit only three boundaries in scoring 52 not out in almost three hours at the crease, but he shared a vital, unbroken eighth-wicket partnership of 45 with Chaminda Vaas before bad light brought play to an end four overs early.

Sri Lanka, who decided to bat after Arjuna Ranatunga had won the toss, were soon in trouble at 41 for 3 as they attempted to come go for victory in the series after losing the opening Test. The last of the trio to fall was Kent's Aravinda de Silva, a century-maker in the second Test at Faisalabad, who was snapped up by Shoaib Muhammad at gully off seamer Ata-ur-Rehman without scoring.

A fourth-wicket stand of 67 between Asanka Gurusinha, who scored 46, and Ranatunga, who made 24, restored respectability but then both fell in the space of 10 runs to leave Sri Lanka struggling on 118 for 5.

Immediately after tea, Hashan Tillekeratne, on 24, touched an outswinger from Wasim Akram to Inzamam-ul-Haq at slip and Chamara Dunusing he was trapped lbw to Aaqib Javed for one to leave Sri Lanka on 171 for 7.

Sri Lanka won toss

Sri Lanka - First innings

R Mahanama c Wasim Akram

b Aaqib Javed 21

C Hathurusinghe c Inzamam-ul-Haq

b Aamir Nazir 12

A Gurusinghe run out 45

A De Silva c Mohammed

b Ata-ur Rehman 0

A Ranatunga c Inzamam-ul-Haq

b Wasim Akram 24

H Tillekeratne c Inzamam-ul-Haq

b Wasim Akram 24

K Dharmasena not out 52

C Dunusinghe lbw b Aquib Javed 1

C Vaas not out 16

Extras (b1 lb11 nb9) 21

Total (for 7) 216

Fall: 1-32 2-36 3-41 4-108 5-118 6-158 7-171.

To bat: P Wickremasinghe, M Muralitharan.

Bowling: Aqib Javed 16-5-45-2; Mohammed Akram 17-4-38-1; Aamir Nasir 16-6-33-1; Ata-ur-Rehman 19-4-41-1; Aamer Sohail 17-4-45-1; Shoaib Mohammed 1-0-2-0.

Pakistan: Shoaib Muhammad, Aamir Sohail, Ramiz Raja (capt), Inzamam-ul- Haq, Basit Ali, Zahid Fazal, Moin Khan, Aqib Javed, Muhammad Akram, Ata- ur-Rehman, Aamir Nazir.