Sri Lanka grind hard to take honours on tough opening day

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Sri Lanka grind hard to take honours on tough opening day

Dimuth Karunaratne and Dinesh Chandimal stroked fighting half-centuries as Sri Lanka grinded hard on a tough opening day in the first Test match against Pakistan in Abu Dhabi.

After opting to bat first under scorching sun, Sri Lanka scored at 2.52 runs per over to end day one on 227 for 4 in 90 overs. Karunaratne scored a solid 93 while skipper Chandimal and Dickwella remained unbeaten on 60 and 43 respectively.

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Earlier, Karunaratne built a solid opening stand of 34 with Kaushal Silva who made a return to the Sri Lana Test team after 9 months. Silva chopped one onto the stumps as seamer Hasan Ali provided Pakistan with the breakthrough.

The newly-appointed Vice-Captain Lahiru Thirimanne who also earned a recall to the Test setup after a year in the wilderness played a reckless slog sweep off Yasir Shah as he was leg before for a duck and Shah then had Kusal Mendis caught behind for 10 to leave Sri Lanka in a spot of bother at lunch on 61 for 3.

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Shah not only gave Pakistan the early advantage but also became the joint second fastest to claim 150 Test wickets. Yasir matched fellow countryman Waqar Younis as the joint second fastest to 150 wickets — both achieving the milestone in their 27th Test. Australia’s Sydney Barnes holds the record after reaching the landmark in just 24 Tests.

Karunaratne and Chandimal batted through the post-lunch session to resurrect the visitors by adding 82 runs on a pitch which was not exactly friendly for batting. The Pakistani bowlers consistently troubled the pair with the boundaries running dry due to large and slow outfield.

After the tea break, the pair crossed 100 runs for the 4th wicket but Karunaratne missed out on a well-deserved century when a mishap in running cost his wicket when both the players ended up in the same end.

Chandimal found an able partner in young wicket-keeper batsman Niroshan Dickwella as they added an unbroken 66 runs for the 5th wicket to take back control to the hands of the visitors. Chandimal played out 184 balls for his 60 and reached his 13th Test fifty while Dickwella used the conventional and reverse sweeps at least 10 times against Shah during his exciting and quality unbeaten knock of 42 which came in 63 balls.

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This is Pakistan’s first Test match since the retirement of legendary batsman Younis Khan and their most successful Test skipper, Misbah-ul-Haq. The hosts handed a Test cap to batsman Haris Sohail, while Sri Lanka went into the game with three spinners and two seamers along with only six batsmen.