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Cricket news - Karunaratne fifty the highlight as Pakistan go wicketless

Karunaratne struck an unbeaten 57 in the morning session.

Karunaratne struck an unbeaten 57 in the morning session.

At the height of anticipation for Test cricket's return to the country after over 10 years, Pakistan went in with four seamers and without a regular spinner on a pitch with a fair amount of green. Rawalpindi had dished out a chilly welcome with overcast skies to boot, and the expectation was for the ball to move around initially. So in came left-armer Usman Shinwari and out went leg-spinner Yasir Shah after his miserable tour of Australia.

None of it spooked Sri Lanka captain Dimuth Karunaratne though. The left-hander had little hesitation in batting first. As it turned out, Karunaratne was leading the way with a half-century as the hosts went into lunch wicketless.

Not that it wasn't a nippy morning. It certainly was - both in terms of movement and the weather. Only that the movement was a lot subtler than the weather. And the new opening pair of Dimuth Karunaratne and Oshada Fernando were way too steadfast for it to have an impact.

Pakistan had their moments, none more excitable than when debutant Shinwari cranked it up in his opening spell. He particularly troubled Karunaratne with his ability to bend the ball back in sharply, striking him on the pads a few times, before knocking his off stump. That's right - Karunaratne shouldered arms to a sharp nip-backer, heard the clearly audible "tok" off the off stump, but was saved by the bails staying unmoved.

But apart from that little phase against Shinwari, the Lankan captain was largely untroubled. He dominated the opening stand and didn't shy away from playing a few shots while Fernando remained a lot more subdued. In fact, the right-hander - opening for the first time - hadn't even gotten off the mark until the 14th over.

However, once the new ball was seen off, the opportunities to score opened up. It culminated in a stray over for left-arm spinner Haris Sohail just before lunch, where Fernando danced down the track to loft him back over his head. If alarm bells weren't going off for wicket-less Pakistan - with their all-pace attack - until that point, they probably were then.

Brief Scores: Sri Lanka 89 for 0 (Dimuth Karunaratne 57*, Oshada Fernando 26*) vs Pakistan.

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