Pakistan fights back after top-order collapse in 1st test vs Sri Lanka

GALLE (SRI LANKA), Jul 17: Pakistan’s middle-order staged a fighting comeback from a shaky start to finish Day 2 of the first test against Sri Lanka on 221-5, trailing by 91 runs on Monday.

After a century by Dhananjaya de Silva helped Sri Lanka post 312 in its first innings, Pakistan slipped to 101-5 in the afternoon session with left-arm spinner Prabath Jayasuriya claiming three scalps on his happy hunting ground.

It looked as if the tourists were going to concede a big first-innings lead but Saud Shakeel and Agha Salman counter-attacked in fine style. The pair added an unbeaten 120 for the sixth wicket with some entertaining strokeplay. They didn’t allow Sri Lanka’s spinners to settle and put the loose balls away thanks to clever use of the feet. Both batters were so positive that Pakistan was scoring at a rate of 4.91 an over.

Only 75 overs of the scheduled 98 were possible as rain again played a part, just like it did on Day 1. When play ended early, Shakeel was unbeaten on 69 off 88 deliveries with six fours while Salman ended on 61 not out from 84 balls with six fours and a six. Sri Lanka tried several bowling changes but was unable to find the breakthrough.

The left-handed Shakeel made his test debut eight months ago but has already become an integral part of the Pakistan side, having struck one hundred and six half-centuries in six tests. Earlier, Jayasuriya drew Abdullah Shafique on to the front foot before some extra turn took the outside edge and he was caught at first slip for 19. The arm ball accounted for captain Babar Azam when he was caught behind off bat and pad for 13, while former skipper Sarfaraz Ahmed missed a sweep shot and was adjudged leg before wicket for 17.

Shan Masood fell for 39 and Imam ul-Haq for 1. Jayasuriya, the fastest Sri Lankan to 50 wickets in tests, has now taken 49 in Galle in six tests. Sri Lanka was bowled out in the last over before lunch after resuming on 242-6.

De Silva stroked his 10th test hundred, the third against Pakistan and the third in Galle. The Sri Lankan vice-captain faced 214 deliveries and hit 12 fours and three sixes. Pace pair Naseem Shah and Shaheen Afridi, and leg-spinner Abrar Ahmed, took three wickets apiece. But Pakistan’s slow bowlers weren’t as tidy as the quickies, raising questions over whether the tourists would have been better off with an additional paceman. (AP)