Sri Lanka produced a gutsy performance with the bat to take a first-innings lead on the second day of the final Test at Karachi.
Former captain Dinesh Chandimal produced a vital innings under pressure for the visitors before all-rounder Dilruwan Perera showed his value with the bat by playing a timely knock.
Pakistan bowled them out late in the final session, conceding a first innings lead of 80. However, that lead has been all but chalked off as the home team’s openers strung an unbeaten 57-run partnership in the second innings before bad light brought an end to the day’s proceedings.
Disciplined Pakistan make early inroads
Sri Lanka resumed Day two at 64 for three with Angelo Mathews and night-watchman Lasith Embuldeniya at the crease.
Pakistan pacers, Mohammad Abbas and Shaheen Shah Afridi were excellent in the first session, making most of the helpful surface at Karachi.
Abbas deceived the night-watchman with a slower one and had him caught at slips.
Afridi accounted for Mathews’ wicket soon after, as the Sri Lankan mainstay inside-edged a full delivery through to the keeper. At that point, Sri Lanka were tottering at 80 for five and the hosts seemed set to sneak away with the lead in the first innings.
Chandimal leads fightback as Lions’ tail frustrate host
Dinesh Chandimal brought his team back into the game by forging three crucial partnerships to help the visitors go past Pakistan’s first innings total. He was involved in a 64-run stand with Dhananjaya de Silva for the sixth wicket in the first session to prevent a lower-order collapse.
Chandimal, understandably started slow on a tough pitch and worked hard for his runs.
Silva fell towards the end of the first session, but Sri Lanka continued to accumulate runs in a trickle. When Niroshan DIckwella was castled by Mohammad Abbas, they were still trailing by seven runs with three wickets remaining.
However, Sri Lanka changed gears in the third session and scored briskly. Chandimal and Dilruwan Perera’s assured eight wicket stand help them gain a slender lead.
Chandimal was dismissed by part-timer Haris Sohail, as he cut a short delivery straight into the hands of the fielder at point. Sri Lanka were ahead by 44 runs by then.
The tail-enders from the visiting team continued to show admirable resistance as they denied Pakistan further for 13 overs before being bowled out for 271. Dilruwan Perera narrowly missed out on a well-deserved half-century, but his rally with Vishwa Fernando towards the end helped his team establish a healthy 80-run lead.
Shaheen Shah Afridi was the star with the ball, picking up his maiden fifer in Test cricket. The left-arm pacer bowled tirelessly for 27 overs and deservedly led the team off the field after picking up the final two wickets in the space of three deliveries.
Youngster Naseem Shah and veteran Yasir Shah went wicketless after bowling 29 overs between them. One clearly needs more first-class experience, while the other may well be past his prime.
Openers hold fort and chip away at the lead
Pakistan openers Shan Masood and Abid Ali walked in with 24 overs remaining in the day. The duo were positive and looked to play on the front foot in their 14-over stay at the crease before bad light stopped play.
The Sri Lankan pacers bowled a little too full and both the openers cashed in by playing some delightful drives and flicks.
There was turn on offer for the left-arm spinner Embuldeniya, but it was well negotiated by the Pakistan batsmen. Ali and Masood remained unbeaten when stumps was called early, with Pakistan just 23 runs away from cancelling out Sri Lanka’s first innings lead.
Day 2 – Stumps
Sri Lanka 271 (Chandimal 74, Perera 48; Afridi 5-77, Abbas 4-55 )
Pakistan 191 & 57/0 (Masood 21*, Ali 32*)
Pakistan trail by 23 runs .