Pakistan-Sri Lanka Test Series – 1st Test played at Galle International Stadium.
Scores at end of Day 2: Sri Lanka 99/1 (34 overs) and Pakistan 451 all out.
Pakistani batsmen are not known for playing long temperamental innings. Yet on Wednesday they proved it wrong, scoring a very decent 451 runs against Sri Lanka in the first innings. They posted their second-highest total in the first innings in past eight years.
Earlier, Pakistan won the toss and elected to bat on the pitch that had been under covers following the overnight rain. Pakistan’s struggle with inconsistent top order continued as they were soon reduced to 56 for 3. Credit goes to impressive bowling performance by the Sri Lankans, who picked up wickets at regular intervals. Ahmed Shehzad and Khurram Manzoor fell cheaply to Prasad (2-33) in his lively opening spell and ace spinner Rangana Herath got rid of Azhar Ali for 30 to put Pakistan in early trouble. Skipper Misbah-ul Haq came to rescue and scored 31 in a 100-run stand with Younis Khan. Thoughtful batting by both the players saved the day for Pakistan as they were 261 for 4 at stumps. Younis Khan showed no signs of urgency and made a splendid 133 off 228 on the first day, his 24th Test century. Asad Shafiq was the other unbeaten batsman on 55.The pair had put on 105 for the fifth wicket.
On the following day, Asad Shafiq (75 runs) went on to build a 137-run partnership with Younis Khan and raised Pakistan to a commanding position. Both the players batted with great discipline and read the wicket perfectly. The in-form player, Youniis Khan added 44 runs to his account before getting caught at midwicket during the 119th over of the innings bowled by Perera. However Sarfraz Ahmed, the under-rated wicketkeeper batsman held on and managed to hit a half century, a much needed one at that stage. Sri Lankan bowlers struggled for the most part as there was next to nothing for the bowlers. However Perera took five important wickets in the innings and kept his side alive in the game. Ranagana Herath and Prasad also contributed well with the ball, picking up the remaining five wickets.
Another impressive half century by Abdur Rehman allowed Pakistan to reach a commendable score of 451. The star of the innings was the comeback player, Younis Khan who scored a very confident and crucial 177 runs for his team. His 24th Test ton made him the fourth Pakistani to complete 7500 Test runs. Returning to test cricket after two years, he really showed his class and experience that rescued Pakistan and helped the side to a comfortable situation. The defining factor was his control throughout his innings.
In response, Sri Lanka came out and looked to score some quick runs but got an early blow when Junaid Khan trapped Tharanga in front. It wasn’t an easy stay for Sri Lanka as fair number of edges evaded the fielders. In reply to Pakistan’s 451, Sri Lanka looked comfortable at 99/1(stumps), as Kumar Sangakkara and Kaushal Silva added 75 runs and looked well set on the crease. However Sri Lanka still trailed by a massive 352 runs. At the end of Day 2, the match is very much in balance and any team could take it from here.
For Pakistan, this match is important to keep their number 3 ranking intact, and look to improve it going forward. Furthermore, Pakistan has not won a Test in Sri Lanka for 8 years. This is the last test series for Mahela Jayawardene and Sri Lankan team would like to make it special for him. He has already announced his retirement from Test cricket and these two Tests against Pakistan will be his last. He would want to leave a major mark on his last Test series, while Sri Lanka will want to win the series for him.
At the end of Day 2 both the subcontinent sides have their chances intact, and a good day’s play can turn the match in their favor. With each side looking aggressive to take the lead, upcoming days’ play would be fascinating.