Sri Lanka Vs Pakistan 2nd Test Match Day 01 Match Highlights
Sri Lanka Vs Pakistan 2nd Test Match Day 1
Dimuth Karunaratne’s unbeaten 133 – an innings defined by its smoothness and control – ensured Sri Lanka’s first brush with day-night Test cricket was a success. They moved to 254 for 3 by stumps, after debutant Sadeera Samarawickrama contributed a delectable 38, and Dinesh Chandimal progressed to the verge of another cautious half-century. Earlier in the day, Kaushal Silva had hung around for 27 off 71 balls as well.
Pakistan had got themselves in the match soon after the tea break, when Samarawickrama and Kusal Mendis fell in quick succession. Though they had Sri Lanka 136 for 3 at one stage, no further wickets would come in the second half of the day. Their frustrations were compounded in the last half an hour when Mohammad Amir pulled up in the middle of 88th over and left the field clutching his thigh, prompting concerns over the state of his hamstring. Sarfraz Ahmed also burned their two reviews trying to dismiss the irritating Chandimal.
Though the quicks gleaned good movement with the new pink balls, it was Yasir Shah who was the most menacing bowler, getting faster and faster turn off the Dubai pitch through the day. He bowled 29.3 overs and returned figures of 2 for 90. Amir was the other bowler to make a breakthrough – his first in the series.
This seventh career hundred – his first in the first innings since 2015 – is an extension of his excellent run in 2017. Though he missed out on triple figures at Abu Dhabi, where he was run out on 93, Karunaratne has nevertheless struck three high-quality centuries this year, all against good attacks. Following two years in which he constantly tested the selectors’ patience, this has been a long-awaited harvest.
While other batsmen advanced at varying rates around him, Karunaratne was Sri Lanka’s day one metronome. Samarawickrama produced a boundary-filled cameo; Chandimal and Kaushal stonewalled, almost becoming completely inert at times. Karunaratne, however, progressed evenly, never getting pinned down, never pressing the attack for long. He struck three fours off one Mohammad Amir over just before the tea break, but that was as exciting as his day got. Otherwise, he was seen flicking balls to his favourite midwicket region, and working the spinners towards square leg. Over a hundred of his runs, and 11 of his 16 boundaries came on the legside.
Gone from his game are the impetuous flashes that frustrated him early in his career, and the tentativeness that plagued him twelve months ago. The Karunaratne that has emerged in 2017 is versatile and tempered – rarely short of scoring options for long, and often able to weather testing spells. On Friday, he saw out some early swing from Amir, and defused Yasir expertly, though the spinner was already gaining substantial turn from this surface. Even late in the day, he would make calculated trips down the track, to the spinners.
Sri Lanka’s strong total had been built upon a sturdy opening stand, but it was the partnership for the second wicket that was the most watchable of the day. Samarawickrama, clearly unfazed by the occasion, showcased his considerable talent during his 35-ball stay. His battle with Yasir was particularly memorable.
After the tea break, he cracked the legspinner through cover, then ran down the pitch to smoke him inside-out over the infield. Yasir occasionally beat his edge – especially with the slider – but Samarawickrama continued to attack nonetheless. After he flitted down the pitch to thump Yasir over the long off boundary, Sarfraz even took Yasir out of the attack. This, however, was no real victory for the batsman. Amir, the man who replaced Yasir, took Samarawickrama’s wicket with the first ball of his spell, leaping to his left to hold a return catch. So promising a maiden innings had it been, it was surprising how tamely it ended.
The momentum that Samarawickrama had introduced to the Sri Lanka innings, however, would not last beyond his dismissal. After Mendis had also fallen, Chandimal played himself in slowly, as is his recent wont. He had one run off 21 balls before he attempted a boundary, and that sweep off Yasir may have been caught had Mohammad Abbas positioned himself better at square leg. In any case, Chandimal survived and just as he had done in the first innings at Abu Dhabi, set about making himself a nuisance. He would leave often, and defend even more, while his partner did much of the run-scoring. Toward their unbeaten stand of 118, Karunaratne contributed 68.
With the pitch already turning, and an in-form Rangana Herath in their ranks, the visitors will feel confident about their position in the match. Their modest rate of scoring, however, means that Pakistan could still claim the advantage with early strikes on day two.