Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Parts 1. Day Strike In Rawalpindi > Cricket News, cricinfo, mobilecric, cricbuzz, livescore and more
Cricket news - Pakistan, Sri Lanka share Day 1 spoils in Rawalpindi
Pakistan picked up five wickets on Day 1 of the first Test
The enormity of the occasion may not have corresponded with the rather low-scale pageantry in Rawalpindi's rustic settings, but the significance of the day was hardly lost as Test cricket returned to Pakistan after over 10 years. And when it did, it made for absorbing viewing, with both teams arguably not having done too badly at the time of stumps on Day 1, which was brought about early due to fading light with around 22 overs lost.
Sri Lanka's argument for the ascendancy lies in the way they negotiated tricky conditions upfront to be in a respectable position at the close, while Pakistan will point to the five wickets as sufficient reward after a day's work. But there's no denying it could've been so much better for the hosts.
Buoyed by a pitch with some green on it along with the prevalent overcast conditions, Pakistan dropped Yasir Shah and went in with four proper seamers. It was a move of great ambition, but one they would've probably second-guessed at the time of lunch after going wicketless through the first session.
It was certainly a nippy morning - both in terms of movement and the weather. Only that the movement was the subtler of the two. And the new opening pair of Dimuth Karunaratne and Oshada Fernando were way too steadfast for it to have an impact. Karunaratne, not spooked by the conditions on offer in deciding to bat first, led the way himself with a half-century, dominating the 96-run stand with Fernando who was a lot more subdued - to an extent that he only got off the mark in the 14th over.
Together, the duo blunted Pakistan's bowlers, preying on their lack of patience as they went searching for too much too early, something which changed drastically after the lunch break.
Having learnt their lesson, Pakistan pulled back their length from the six-metre mark more towards the eight-metre one and kept it there. The results were outstanding. For one, it tightened the screws by not allowing Sri Lanka to get away - bore out by the meagre 48 runs scored in the session. When that happened, the wickets were bound to follow with the pitch having enough in it.
The comeback was spaced out symmetrically right from lunch to tea, with all four of Pakistan's seamers getting a wicket apiece - one in every quarter of 30 minutes. Shaheen Afridi started it by trapping Karunaratne plumb in front, before Naseem Shah removed his opening partner Fernando with a beauty that stood up off the seam to take the bat shoulder to first slip.
The follow-up wasn't bad from debutant Usman Shinwari either. Shinwari, arguably, was the most impressive of Pakistan's bowlers on the day, and should've had Karunaratne in the morning session itself.
He particularly troubled the left-hander with his ability to bend the ball back in sharply, striking him on the pads a few times, before knocking his off stump while on 31. That's right - Karunaratne shouldered arms to a sharp nip-backer, heard the clearly audible "tok" of the off stump, but was saved by the bails that stayed unmoved.
Shinwari wasn't to be denied for long though, finding his maiden Test wicket in the form of Kusal Mendis who edged one to the keeper off a ball holding its line from round the wicket. It was a beautiful delivery, although Mohammad Abbas came with an ever better one that straightened past Dinesh Chandimal's outside edge for the top of off stump.
Two different sessions, and two completely different bowling performances, with Sri Lanka going from 89/0 to 137/4.
But in keeping with the ebbs and flows, Pakistan slacked off again after tea, allowing Angelo Mathews and Dhananjaya de Silva to get away slightly in a 62-run stand. During that time, Shaheen Afridi fell heavily on the boundary and had to walk off. The Day 1 honours were there for the taking for Sri Lanka. Mathews, though, couldn't resist going for a flamboyant drive off Naseem, thereby edging to second slip as the balance was restored before light had the final say.
Brief scores: Sri Lanka 202/5 (Dimuth Karunaratne 59, Oshada Fernando 40; Naseem Shah 2/51) vs Pakistan
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