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Cricket news - We should have batted a bit more positively - Karunaratne

Sri Lanka batsmen made a bright start but failed to capitalise on it

Sri Lanka batsmen made a bright start but failed to capitalise on it

The first day's play in Rawalpindi ended on an even keel between Pakistan and Sri Lanka, but the visiting side captain Dimuth Karunaratne rued the fact that his batsmen threw away their starts in the second session. From 96 for no loss at one stage, and then slipped to 137 for 4 by Tea.

Karunaratne acknowledged the batsmen should have taken a more positive approach in the second session. "There was a bit of swing in that second session, and a little seam, but I think we could have used a different approach because we'd had a good start, having made 89 in the first session. Maybe we could have been more of a threat to their bowlers after lunch. We should have batted a bit more positively because when the runs are ticking over on the board, even if wickets fall, it's not such a big deal," he said.

Karunaratne made a sold start in the morning session, but departed for 59. His opening partner Oshada Fernando scored 40 while Angelo Mathews, batting two-drop, fell after getting to 31. Dhananjaya de Silva (38 not out) and Niroshan Dickwella took Sri Lanka to stumps on 202 for 5.

"We got good starts, but no one went for a big score. We got a few 20s and 30s. We need to be converting those scores if we want to win a Test. Everyone, including me, has to make sure we don't let go once we get those starts - in the next innings if we can," Karunaratne opined.

The onus now is on Dhananjaya and Dickwella to stretch the innings as far as possible, if they are to achieve the target that Karunaratne has in mind - 300. "We need a good total to give our bowlers a chance," he said, before rallying behind the two batsmen at the crease currently. "Dikka (Niroshan Dickwella) opens the batting in shorter formats, and Dhananjaya has come in at No. 3 for us in the past, so both of them should be able to negotiate the second new ball when that comes around. Hopefully, they can get us past 275 and then the tail can get a few extra runs," Karuratne said.

With the game in the balance after Day 1, the Pakistan camp too will be looking for early breakthroughs on Day 2. Naseem Shah, the 16-year-old fast bowler, reckoned they should've had the game tilting more in their favour with another wicket, but now have to plan in order to restrict the visitors to under 250.

"Overall the pitch was good, all you have to do is hit the good areas for success. We could have taken another wicket [in the day] but we will come back fresh tomorrow to get them as quickly as we can to restrict them under 250 to have a full control [of the game]."

To not concede more than 48 runs before picking the last five wickets will take special effort, but the all-pace bowling attack showed glimpses of brilliance on the opening Day. After failing to gain control in the opening phases of play, Pakistan regrouped at Lunch and returned with a change of plan - a more restrictive one this time after having seen their overzealous attempts to find breakthroughs being dealt comfortably in the morning session. They made subtle length adjustments and hit jackpot in the process, as each of the four pacers - Naseem Shah, Mohammad Abbas, debutant Usman Shinwari and Shaheen Afridi - picked a wicket each. The alteration also put a lid on Sri Lanka's free-scoring ways, as they could only make 48 in the post-Lunch session.

Naseem, who made his Test debut in Brisbane last month, went on to pick another wicket before stumps, and reveled in the opportunity of playing in front of home fans - a luxury that many Pakistan cricketers have not been afforded due to the 10-year long exile.

"In Australia I saw how the crowd there was behind their bowlers all the time and their support really gave them a push," he said. "And today, playing at a home venue in front of my own crowd gave me the exact sense I got in Australia. The crowd was outstanding and they were cheering on every good ball I bowled, so playing at home wasn't about me being under pressure but instead I was enjoying the atmosphere.

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