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December 12, 2019

Seamers make it Pakistan’s day

Sports

December 12, 2019

ISLAMABAD: A purple patch in the post-lunch session that saw pacers taking four wickets in a heap made it a Pakistan day as Sri Lanka slowly lost the grip on the opening day of the first Test at the Pindi Stadium on Wednesday.

There could not have been a more entertaining resumption of Test cricket in Pakistan after a decade than what was on offer on a light-restricted opening day. Sri Lanka started off formidably but the hosts came back to reduce the visitors to 202 for 5 in 68.1 possible overs by the close.

The visitors’ decision to bat first proved right when they reached 89 for no loss at lunch with skipper FDM Karunaratne (59) and BOP Fernando (40) going well. While the Sri Lankan skipper played aggressively, Fernando took 12 overs to get off the mark.

It was after the lunch interval that real action started with the young pair of Shaeen Shah Afridi (1-37) and Naseem Shah (2-51) extracting bounce and movement. Shaheen’s talent was soon on display when he defeated Karunaratne’s defence with a yorker. The batsman reviewed the lbw decision, but to no avail.

Within the next 15 overs, Pakistan picked three more wickets to reduce Sri Lanka from 96 for no loss to 127 for 4. Naseem dislodged Fernando. DKG Mendis (10), one of the most consistent of Sri Lanka batsmen, edged behind a delivery from debutant Usman Shinwari.

LD Chandimal’s (2) off stumps were disturb by Mohammad Abbas before DM de Silva (38 not out) and AD Mathews (31) added 58 runs for the fifth wicket.

Mathews became the second victim of Naseem’s pace. “What we wanted was to contain Sri Lanka and we did that,” Naseem said in the post-match media talk. “After lunch we tried to put extra pressure and ultimately succeeded in taking wickets regularly,” he added.

He looked excited playing in front of home crowd. “We all are playing our first Test at home and are excited to perform well in front of home crowd,” he said.

Naseem, who is also included in Pakistan’s squad for next month’s Under-19 World Cup in South Africa, said he was happy to play the lead role. “Whenever I bowled a good delivery, the crowd supported me,” he added.

The Sri Lanka skipper said they expected to cross the 300-run figure. “It would be a good score and we are confident to get to that mark as we have still got batting,” he added.

Karunaratne defended his decision to bat first saying that he had got two spinners. “We are looking at the fourth innings. With two spinners at our disposal, I think the decision to bat first was the right one,” he said.

At close, Dhananjaya de Silva was unbeaten on 38 and Niroshan Dickwella not out 11 as Sri Lanka spoiled a good 96-run start given by skipper Dimuth Karunaratne (59) and Oshada Fernando (40).

Pakistan struggled for wickets in the first session. Shaheen Shah Afridi trapped Sri Lankan skipper Karunaratne leg-before soon after lunch to trigger a collapse which saw the visitors lose four wickets within just 31 runs in the post-lunch session.

Karunaratne hit nine boundaries in his 110-ball knock. Naseem then had Fernando caught at slip for 40, an innings laced with six boundaries and a six. It was his first Test wicket after he came away empty-handed from his debut in Brisbane against Australia last month.

He also had Angelo Mathews caught in the slips for 31. Usman Shinwari also claimed his first wicket when Kusal Mendis edged him to wicketkeeper Mohammad Rizwan for 10, while Mohammad Abbas bowled Dinesh Chandimal for two with a beautiful delivery.

Pakistan, who in a surprise decision left out their key spinner Yasir Shah, had struggled for a breakthrough in the first session. Naseem was the stand-out bowler in the morning as he generated pace, hitting Karunaratne on the helmet in the 19th over.

Sri Lankan skipper, then on 42, fell down but showed no further signs of discomfort, hitting Shaheen Shah Afridi for his eighth boundary to reach his 24th Test fifty. Around 8,000 fans chanted slogans and sang national songs as home team captain Azhar Ali tossed the coin to open proceedings.

Sri Lanka are on the first Test tour of Pakistan since a gun-and-rocket attack in March 2009 killed eight people and wounded visiting players and officials, plunging Pakistan into sporting isolation. With foreign teams refusing to visit, Pakistan played their “home” Tests in the United Arab Emirates for 10 years.

“Of course, a historic day in Pakistan cricket and we all are excited,” said Azhar. “We want to make this occasion memorable by winning,” he added. And the fans were over the moon. “Thank you Sri Lanka for coming to play Tests in Pakistan,” said 21-year-old Shaista Naveed, a university student from neighbouring city Islamabad. The second Test starts in Karachi from December 19. —with input from agencies

Sri Lanka won toss

Sri Lanka 1st Innings

*D Karunaratne lbw b Shaheen 59

O Fernando c Haris b Naseem 40

K Mendis c Rizwan b Shinwari 10

A Mathews c Asad b Naseem 31

D Chandimal b Abbas 2

D de Silva not out 38

†N Dickwella not out 11

Extras (b 5, lb 3, nb 3) 11

Total (5 wickets; 68.1 overs) 202

Still to bat: D Perera, V Fernando, K Rajitha, L Kumara

Fall: 1-96, 2-109, 3-120, 4-127, 5-189

Bowling: Abbas 20.1-7-50-1; Shaheen 16-6-37-1 (nb 3); Shinwari 14-4-47-1; Naseem 16-4-51-2; Haris 1-0-9-0; Shan 1-1-0-0

Pakistan: Shan Masood, Abid Ali, *Azhar Ali, Babar Azam, Haris Sohail, Asad Shafiq, †Mohammad Rizwan, Usman Shinwari, Mohammad Abbas, Naseem Shah, Shaheen Shah Afridi

Umpires: Richard Kettleborough and Michael Gough (England). TV umpire: Richard Illingworth (England). Match referee: Andy Pycroft (Zimbabwe)