Tea Sri Lanka 143 for 3 (Karunaratne 81*, Chandimal 32*, Shah 2-38) v Pakistan
Live scorecard and ball-by-ball details
It was laboursome work, and pre-lunch indiscretions have still not been atoned for, but in batting out the second session without major worry, senior batsmen Dimuth Karunaratne and Dinesh Chandimal have begun to fit Sri Lanka’s innings with a backbone. At tea, they were 143 for 3.
To understand how reticent Sri Lanka have been, and also how tightly Pakistan have bowled consider this: 59 overs into this match, only eight boundaries have yet been struck. Five of those belong to Karunaratne, who has played his favoured flick judiciously, and waited for the loose balls outside off stump to cut to the boundary. Having faced 171 balls, he has not over-hit a single one. Chandimal has been even less ambitious, ambling contentedly to 32 off 94 balls. Where once he used to be the livewire in Sri Lanka’s middle order, his best innings of the past 14 months have all been slow-burners. The pair have now put on 82 together, and raised Sri Lanka out of the danger they had found themselves in at lunch, when they had been 61 for the loss of 3 wickets.
Despite the green tinge in the surface, there has not been a lot of venom in it for Pakistan. Yasir Shah has extracted only moderate turn, and the batting pair have anyway played him watchfully. In Yasir’s 20 overs so far, Sri Lanka have only taken 38. The quicks had got the occasional ball to move off the seam in the first session, but gained more consistent movement with the older ball, just before tea. Hasan Ali was perhaps the best exponent of reverse swing, creating several moments of discomfort during a seven-over pre-tea spell. An outside edge off Chandimal’s bat fell just short of first slip, and skidded away to the boundary. A Karunaratne inside-edge only narrowly missed the stumps. Hasan sent down the occasional surprise bouncer too, but the batsmen resisted.
Perhaps the batsmen’s reluctance to venture more aggressive shots also comes down to the makeup of their XI. The next man in, Niroshan Dickwella, can hardly be relied on to dig in and get through a tough period, agent of chaos that he is. Beyond that is Dilruwan Perera, who is an improving batsman without quite being dependable, and then four specialist bowlers – Sri Lanka opting for five in all, in this match.
Despite the wicketless session, and the lack of swing for the likes of Mohammad Amir, Pakistan are unlikely to be disheartened by the scoreline either. Each of their bowlers has adhered to the plan of bowling dry – Amir and Mohammad Abbas going at only a tick over two runs an over. Though they have departed from Misbah-Ul-Haq’s dual-spinner strategy in the UAE, they have paid homage to his ethos by maintaining impeccable lines and lengths.
In the morning session, they had also managed to frustrate at least one batsman out of his wicket – Lahiru Thirimanne dismissed by Yasir, after he had attempted to slog sweep a ball following six scoreless deliveries. Kusal Mendis nicked a regulation offbreak to Sarfraz Ahmed, who managed to stop the ball between glove and hip. Kaushal Silva had played on attempting, of all things, a leave.
Source: ESPN Crickinfo