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Sri Lanka end Test drought

Kumar Sangakkara plays a cut during his half-century.

PALLEKELE — Sri Lanka won their first Test series in three years after the third and final match against Pakistan ended in a thrilling draw in Pallekele today.

The hosts made a brave bid to chase down a target of 270, reaching 132-2 by tea on the fifth day, before they were pegged back by a three-wicket burst from off-spinner Saeed Ajmal.

Dinesh Chandimal scored 65 and the prolific Kumar Sangakkara returned unbeaten on 74 as Sri Lanka made 195-4 before the game was called off with nine overs remaining at the Pallekele International Stadium.

The 1-0 scoreline — following a 209-run victory in the first Test in Galle — was Sri Lanka’s first Test series win since beating New Zealand 2-0 at home in 2009.

The rain-hit second Test in Colombo was drawn, while the entire second day’s play in Pallekele had been washed out.

Sri Lankan captain Mahela Jayawardene defended his decision to give up the chase after the fall of the fourth wicket, saying it was not worth risking the 1-0 lead they had in the series.

Pakistan captain Misbah-ul Haq said he was surprised when Sri Lanka abandoned the chase, but conceded that getting 270 runs in 71 overs would not have been easy.

Misbah said the 1-0 loss was not a fair result since his team could have won both the last two Tests, but preferred to dwell on the positives.

“We have real good talent in the side like (Asad) Shafiq, Azhar (Ali) and Junaid Khan. But if there is an area we need to improve, it is our fielding and catching.”

Shafiq remained unbeaten on 100 as Pakistan declared their second innings at 380-8 half-an-hour before lunch to attempt a series-levelling win.

But the tourists were thwarted by a pitch that eased out under the hot sun and a determined effort by the home team’s batsmen in front of some 1,000 spectators.

Openers Tharanga Paranavitana and Chandimal gave Sri Lanka a bright start with a 44-run partnership by the 10th over.

Chandimal, a last-minute inclusion for the match after Tillakaratne Dilshan opted out due to health worries in his family, anchored the innings at the start.

Sangakkara, who made an unbeaten 199 in the first Test and 192 in the second, was named the player of the series.

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