Half-centuries by Oshada Fernando and Dinesh Chandimal powered Sri Lanka 315 for 6 on the first day of the second Test at the Galle International Stadium on Sunday.
Opener Oshada Fernando continued his good form with the bat and along with captain Dimuth Karunaratne ensured that Sri Lanka were off to a comfortable start. The first hour was a quiet one with the hosts reaching 36/0 in 12 overs. After gaining confidence both batters broke free and hit a couple of stunning shots to push Sri Lanka’s scoring rate.
Fernando was the faster of the two as he inched towards his seventh Test fifty. He got to the milestone with a six over mid-on but was immediately dismissed on the next ball, breaking the 92-run opening stand.
Three overs later, Kusal Mendis (3) departed due to an unfortunate run-out as he was out of the crease at the non-striker’s end when the bowler diverted the ball onto the stumps. Lunch was then taken with Sri Lanka on 96/2.
Karunaratne could not last long after lunch either. In less than six overs after the lunch break, he was out off Yasir Shah while attempting a reverse sweep and ending up mishitting the ball to backward point, where Naseem Shah held onto a sharp catch diving forward. Dinesh Chandimal walked in and continuing his recent purple patch, joined Mathews to help revive Sri Lanka’s innings.
The experienced duo settled in, negotiating strike and moving at a steady pace. There were no demons in the pitch and little turn on offer. The pair brought up their half-century stand with ease and continued to persevere. Mathews got a reprieve on 36 when he was dropped by Babar Azam at extra cover off Nauman Ali. Sri Lanka went to tea at 181/3.
With the experienced pair of Mathews and Chandimal going strong, wickets were the need of the hour for Pakistan.
They got exactly that, with Nauman Ali delivering a crucial breakthrough after tea. A beautifully flighted delivery, drifted in and then turned sharply to get a thin edge off Mathew’s bat, which was caught by Rizwan. The 75-run stand was finally broken.
Chandimal though continued to bat beautifully, bringing up his half-century, getting some decent support from Dhananjaya de Silva. He was particularly severe against Yasir, playing some cracking shots. His aggressive intent though would get the better of him, as an attempted wild slog against Nawaz brought his downfall. Fawad Alam snapped the chance at backward point, as Chandimal walked back for 80.
The new ball would then do the trick for Pakistan, as a peach from Naseem Shah would rattle the middle stump, and send de Silva back for 33. Niroshan Dickwell would get a reprieve on 23, with Babar dropping another catch, this time in the slips.
Dickwella, along with Wellalage, would see through the remainder of the day, as Sri Lanka headed to stumps at 315/6.
(Inputs from IANS)