Karachi: Pakistan openers responded aggressively to cut down Sri Lanka’s lead to 23 runs on day two of the second Test on Friday.
Abid Ali (32) and Shan Masood (21) scored at a brisk pace and guided Pakistan to 57-0 in 14 overs of their second innings before stumps were drawn for the day due to bad light.
Dinesh Chandimal’s resolute 74 and Dilruwan Perera’s equally splendid 48 had earlier helped Sri Lanka score 271 and get an 80-run first innings lead.
Abid made headlines when he became the first male international cricketer in the history of the game to score a century on debut in ODI and Test matches. He made a hundred in the drawn first Test at Rawalpindi last week.
Abid continued to impress after being given an opportunity at age 32, hitting four boundaries.
Sri Lanka fast bowlers couldn’t find any seam movement like they did on the first day, when Pakistan was bowled out for 191. Left-arm spinner Lasith Embuldeniya, who took four wickets in the first innings, also couldn’t get the breakthrough in his five overs.
Earlier, Chandimal featured in two half century stands, adding 67 runs with first Test century-maker Dhananjaya de Silva (32) and ensuring the lead by putting on 51 runs with Perera.
“It was a tough wicket to bat on,” Chandimal said. “The ball was seaming when the bowlers hit the right areas ... and if we can get couple of wickets tomorrow morning, this could be a really good game.”
Pakistan fast bowlers Shaheen Afridi (5-77) had his maiden five-wicket haul in Test cricket and Mohammad Abbas took 4-55. But leg-spinner Yasir Shah (0-43) again failed to get a wicket despite working with spin consultant Mushtaq Ahmed for three days when he was dropped from the first Test squad.
Yasir, who holds the world record of fastest bowler to complete 200 wickets in Test matches, has been unimpressive in 2019 with only four wickets in four Test matches.
“It’s a very good wicket and you can get success if you hit the right areas,” Afridi said. "Credit goes to Abbas too as he didn’t allow runs from the other end which helped me to take wickets.”
Afridi and Abbas had to share the bowling burden as 16-year-old paceman Naseem Shah (0-71) also leaked runs at an average of 4.43 per over. Part-time left-arm spinner Haris Sohail finally ended Chandimal's knock before tea when he attempted a lose square cut off left-arm spinner Haris Sohail, being caught at point.
Abbas had raised Pakistan's hopes of restricting Sri Lanka’s lead when he had Niroshan Dickwella clean bowled early in the second session with the visitors still seven runs away from wiping out the deficit.
But Chandimal and Perera were untroubled by Yasir’s spin and contributed with a meaningful half century partnership for the eighth-wicket stand before Pakistan took the second new ball. Afridi wrapped up the innings by having Perera lbw, and one ball later knocked back the off stump of No. 11 batsman Kumara.
In an extended first session of 2 hours, 40 minutes due to Friday prayers, Chandimal held the Sri Lanka innings together after the visitors resumed on 64-3.
Nightwatchman Embuldeniya (13) frustrated the fast bowlers for over half an hour before falling to an awful stroke.
Babar Azam missed a regulation catch that could have dismissed Embuldeniya on 11 in Naseem’s third over before Abbas struck.
Embuldeniya strangely attempted a swat sweep against Abbas but got a leading edge and was caught in the second slip.
Afridi then found the inside edge of Angelo Mathews’ bat as the former Sri Lanka captain struggled in negotiating with the seam bowling of the three fast bowlers.
But Chandimal and Dhananjaya settled in for a 67-run sixth wicket stand.
Afridi broke the threatening stand in his second spell when Dhananjaya top-edged a pull shot and was caught at fine leg, before Chandimal and Dickwella denied Pakistan further success and took the lunch at 170-6.
The rain-affected first Test at Rawalpindi ended in a draw last week. It’s Pakistan’s first Test series at home in over 10 years since the Sri Lanka team came under terrorists attack at Lahore in 2009.
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