Sri Lanka’s bowling juggernaut came good in a contrasting pace-spin combination of Lahiru Kumara and Lasith Embuldeniya as Pakistan were shot out for 191 on a tricky Karachchi pitch on the opening day of the second Test yesterday.
Kumara’s lively pace earned the 22-year old speed merchant a haul of 4 for 49 while the left arm 23-year old Embuldeniya also reaped 4 wickets at a cost of 71 runs in rewarding the national selectors faith in having opted for new flair to plug a worrying spin department that had hit a vacuum following regular spinner Akila Dananjaya losing his way running in to a chucking controversy few years ago.
Sri Lanka had replied with 64 for 3 losing Oshada Fernando for 4, the prize wicket of skipper Dimuth Karunaratne for 25 and Kusal Mendis for 13. In another glaring continued failure of a find who burst on the international scene with a bang best showcased by his blistering 197 in a home test against Australia in 2017, as Mendis wended his way back to the pavilion in what has become more or less familiar failed exercises it certainly left a heavy lump in the throats of Sri Lankan cricket lovers who had looked to the youngster as the country’s next prince of batting to fill the voids created by Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara in the wake of the tremendous promise he arrived with. At the wickets were Angelo Mathews on 8 and night watchman Lasith Embuldeniya on 3 leaving the stage for an expectant ding dong battle for control on the second day.
The day began with Pakistan opting to bat on winning the toss and losing frontline 3 wickets for 65 in near similarity to Sri Lanka before the ever reliable Babar Azam followed his first Test ton with a polished 96-ball 60 inclusive of 8 boundaries and a six in sharing in a 62-run fourth wicket alliance with Asad Shafiq who made a 126-ball 63 containing 6 boundaries. But with the dismissal of Babar Azam with the total on 127 when he was well lured by Embuldeniya to be stumped by Niroshan Dickwella, Pakistan lost their way losing the last six wickets for just 24 runs with Asad Shafiq ninth out holing a catch off Lahiru Kumara to Oshada Fernando.
Pakistan 191 All out (59.3 Overs) Run rate: 3.21
(Asad Shafiq 63, Baba Azam 60, Lahiru Kumara4/49, Lasith Embuldeniya 4/79)
Sri Lanka 64/3 (19 Overs) Run rate: 3.36
(Dimuth Karunaratne 25, Kusal Mendis 13, Angelo Mathews n.o. 8, Lasith Embuldeniya n.o. 3, Mohammad Abbas 2/21)
By Srian Obeyesekere
-The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Sri Lanka Cricket-