Eight wickets in total fell in the final session of the day but it was Sri Lanka who have their noses in front after a frenetic start to the second and final Test against Pakistan in Karachi.
Pakistan skipper Azhar Ali won the toss and elected to bat first at the National Stadium in Karachi, before seeing his team bundled out for just a mere 191 runs in their innings.
In response, Sri Lanka lost three wickets for the score of 64 before stumps were drawn on Day One. Here, we look at the key talking points from a day which which clearly belonged to the bowlers.
Embuldeniya makes his mark
23-year old Lasith Embuldeniya has been impressive so far in his short international career. 👏— ThePapare.com (@ThePapareSports) December 19, 2019
Best spinner in the country at the moment?
He was instrumental in folding Pakistan for 191. #PAKvSL pic.twitter.com/aOPBFprN4M
With pacer Kasun Rajitha being sidelined for the Test due to an injury, Sri Lanka opted to bring in a spinner in the form of Lasith Embuldeniya in his stead. It was a decision that paid huge dividends with the left-armed orthodox spinner stealing the show in only his fifth Test appearance.
The 23-year-old’s style is reminiscent of a certain Rangana Herath and the former Sri Lanka spin ace would have been proud of the display the protégé put in at the National Stadium. With his classical action and willingness to flight the ball, Embuldeniya used subtle variations to spin a web around Pakistan.
While he grabbed a total of four wickets on the day, it was his dismissal of Babar Azam which stood out the most. Seeing the well-set Pakistan batsman advancing down the track, Embuldeniya shortened his length slightly but made no compromise on the flight. The end result was Babar was beaten by the dip and turn, with Niroshan Dickwella doing the rest to leave the Pakistan star stranded.
Kumara rattles with his pace and accuracy
Just watching an excellent spell of fast bowling from Lahiru Kumara #PAKvSL everything to like about it ... pace , aggression.. control .. Has now put @OfficialSLC in a great position in this test match 👍👏👏— Russel Arnold (@RusselArnold69) December 19, 2019
While pacer Vishwa Fernando provided Sri Lanka with an electric start with two wickets in the same over, it was Lahiru Kumara who was the star of the show with a sensational showing.
The right-armed fast bowler bowled was relentless with his pace, but it was his lethal accuracy that did the trick with batsmen finding it hard to cope with his probing lengths.
He beat the well-set Abid Ali with pace and late movement though it was the final session in which he really came alive. Immediately after tea, Kumara rattled Mohammad Rizwan’s stump with a sharp in-swinger that pierced through the gap between bat and pad.
Then, he removed half-centurion Asad Shafiq soon after before pinning Yasir Shah lbw for a golden duck. His figures of 4-49 are his second best showing in Test cricket and is the sixth instance of him picking up four wickets or more in a single innings.
No Fawad, no party for Pakistan
Once again, Pakistan chose to omit Fawad Alam from the playing XI and that decision was starting to look worse with each passion session. Leaving out a prolific domestic run-scorer on his home turf was a bold call from the Pakistan team management, especially when several batsmen had already been enduring lean patches with the bat.
One of them was Haris Sohail, and the left-hander’s miserable form continued with another dismal showing. Misreading Embuldeniya’s delivery completely, Sohail was trapped plumb in front of the wicket for just nine runs. It was the fourth time that the Pakistan man had been dismissed for a single-digit score in his last five innings with a score of 18 being his best showing in the horrendous run.
Meanwhile, Azhar Ali’s batting woes showed no signs of stopping either, with the Pakistan skipper being dismissed for a second-ball duck by Vishwa Fernando. It means that the veteran has now gone 13 innings without registering a Test fifty, with nine of them ending in single-digit dismissals.
His average for the ongoing year is now just 12.1 and the scrutiny over his ascension to Test captaincy is only going to increase after his latest failure.
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