Galle: Pakistan bowlers ran through the Sri Lanka batting order to bowl them out for 222, before the hosts struck late to leave the contest hanging in the balance.
Opting to bat first, Sri Lanka hoped to make it count big, with a big first innings total in Galle. But the Pakistan bowling attack, led by the 2021 ICC Men’s Cricketer of the Year – Shaheen Afridi – were too hot to handle for the hosts.
Meaningful scores were few and far for Sri Lanka, with Afridi starting the proceedings for the visitors taking the all-important wicket of skipper Dimuth Karunaratne. Afridi would take three more wickets in the form of Dhananjaya de Silva, Niroshan Dickwella and Maheesh Theekshana, ending with figures of 4/58.
Yasir Shah (2/66) and Hasan Ali (2/23) were also massively impressive, as Pakistan restricted Sri Lanka to a modest total of 222.
It wasn’t all doom and gloom for the Sri Lanka batting department. Dinesh Chandimal, continued his golden run in Galle after his brilliant double ton against Australia. As wickets were falling, Chandimal was dogged in his resistance, playing a vital knock of 76. He also played a few brilliant shots, taking the attack to the Pakistan pacers.
He got some support from Theekshana, with whom he established a 44-run stand. After the departure of Chandimal, Theekshana added 45 runs in a partnership with Kasun Rajitha, which helped the hosts cross the 200-run mark.
The spinner played a knock of 38 runs, before finally departing against the brilliance of Shaheen Afridi.
After an under-par total on the board, early wickets were the need of the hour for the hosts. Rajitha delivered just that. He struck Imam-ul-Haq on the pads, trapping him lbw for 2. Imam immediately reviewed the call and ball tracking showed that the delivery was clipping the stumps.
It was an early jitter for Pakistan, who now had to see through an awkward final 45 minutes of the day. Abdullah Shafique and the experienced Azhar Ali adopted a defence-first approach, trying to see through the remainder of the day. They failed to do that as Prabath Jayasuriya got Shafique lbw for 13 with an arm ball.
Pakistan ended the day on 24/2, trailing the hosts by 198 runs, with Ali (3) and skipper Babar Azam (1) at the crease.