Sri Lanka 202/5 in 1st Test
On an emotional day when Test cricket returned to Pakistan significantly between the very two sides that a decade ago cricket came to a standstill following the aborted 2009 terrorist attack on the Sri Lanka team, the weather dampened opening day of the first test between Sri Lanka and Pakistan today at Rawalpindi ended on an even balance with the Lankans on 202 for 5 wickets. Irrespective of the day’s proceedings, it marked a historic day for Pakistan when importantly cricket became the eventual winner for a cricket loving nation that the game had returned to their land at long last.
The first day turned out to be of fluctuating fortunes when the Sri Lanka opening pair of skipper Dimuth Karunaratne, who opted to bat first on winning the toss, and Oshadie Fernando dominatedthe first session. Their contrasting ploys of Karunaratne plodding cautiously and Fernando sporadically daring in reaching the boundary produced 96 runs for the first wicket as the all pace Pakistani attack labored without success. But then the host team was to ride back into contention in swift strikes reducing Sri Lanka to 4 for 127 in 44.2 overs having lost those wickets in the space of 30 runs in 14 overs. Karunaratne, who had parried in a battle of getting his side off to a sound start, was trapped leg before wicket by Shaheen Afridi for 59 off 110 balls containing 9 boundaries. It was 109 for 2 four overs later when Osadee Fernando’s bold 81-ball knock of 40 runs spiced with 6 boundaries and a six ended to a Naseem Shah delivery.
It became120 for 3 after the 42nd over when Kusal Mendis’ 47 minute struggle ended futilely for 10 runs falling victim to Usman Shinwari, and 2.2 overs later it was127 for 4 when Dinesh Chandimal’s return to big stage cricket after a conspicuous omission was hurting when a rearing Mohammad Abbas delivery on middle and off cleaned his off stump. He made 2 facing 7 balls.
Sri Lanka fought back through a fruitful 62-run fifth wicket resistance between veteran batsman Angelo Mathews occupying the No.4 slot and Dananjaya de Silva manning the pivotal No.6 slot. But when it looked like the partnership was threatening with a sedate Mathews reviving the innings supported by a reassuring Silva who boldly searched the boundary, the former drove at a wide delivery by Naseem only to edge to slip giving Pakistan the much needed break. He made 31 off 77 with 4 boundaries.
But Dananjaya de Silva stood firm taking Sri Lanka past the 200-mark buoyed by a brisk13-ball 11 by wicket-keeper batsman Niroshan Dickwella who struck 2 boundaries as the sixth-wicket pair got the nod of the umpires for bad light.
Sri Lanka 1st Innings 202/5 (68.1 Overs) Run rate: 2.96
(F.D.M. Karunaratne 59, B.O.P. Fernando 40, D.M. de Silva n.o. 38, A.D. Mathews 31, N. Dickwella n.o. 11, Naseem Shah 2/51)
By Srian Obeyesekere