Sri Lanka v Pakistan, 3rd Test, Pallekele, 1st day July 8, 2012

Fernando and Sami, the Comeback kings

Plays of the day from the first day of the third Test between Sri Lanka and Pakistan in Pallekele

Comeback of the day…
… goes to the enigmatic Dilhara Fernando. Since his Test debut in 2000, the on and off Sri Lanka fast bowler was making his 17th comeback, outnumbering his counterpart Mohammad Sami (14). When Sami was recalled at the start of the tour, he began inauspiciously, conceding 14 off his first over in the first T20 in Hambantota. Not that Fernando had much to brag about today. He was not given the new ball and curiously, was brought into the attack after the other fast bowlers and the left-arm spinner Rangana Herath had had a bowl. Brought on in the 26th over, his first ball was wide and slashed past point for four by Misbah-ul-Haq. It wasn't worth the wait. Sami didn't fare any better as his first ball was signaled a wide.

Bizarre tactic of the day
The featherbed at the SSC had left the bowlers, especially Sri Lanka's, exasperated. The green-top at Pallekele and overcast conditions made the decision to bowl first a no-brainer for either captain. Both teams beefed up their seam attacks, more so Sri Lanka, who took the unconventional step of playing four seamers at home. Despite this move, it was bizarre seeing the wicketkeeper Prasanna Jayawardene stand up to the stumps in the third over of the morning. It was meant to check Taufeeq Umar from using his feet to negate Nuwan Kulasekara's swing. While it was an aggressive move on Sri Lanka's part, it didn't feel right seeing the frontline seamer being treated like a spinner given the pitch and conditions.

Poor shot of the day
Pakistan can't blame this one on the pitch or the swing. In fact, it was a swing of the bat that cost them a wicket. Adnan Akmal had made a start before retiring hurt to nurse his injured left ring finger. When he returned after Sami's fall, his role was to support the well-set Asad Shafiq, who had made a fighting fifty. Herath tossed it up, Akmal got on his knee to slog, swished at thin air and was bowled. Not the smartest shot from the last recognised batsman.

Ball of the day
Junaid Khan returned to torment Sri Lanka once again with a venomous spell with the new ball late in the evening. The scenario was tailor-made for him as he was up against an opener low on confidence, and a makeshift opener still trying to find his feet in Test cricket. Junaid got the ball to swing and cut, getting it to fizz past the edge on several occasions. After trapping Dinesh Chandimal with an inswinger from round the wicket, he bowled an absolute peach to get rid of Pakistan's biggest tormentor, Kumar Sangakkara. After surviving a close shout for lbw, Sangakkara was deceived by one which came in with the angle, beat him on the drive and clipped the off stump. Sri Lanka had it coming.

Kanishkaa Balachandran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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  • Lalith on July 9, 2012, 6:07 GMT

    @Sinhaya Luck SL got away with a draw thanks to rain. SL is going to loose thanks tp Mahela's stupid decision to bowl first.

  • Dummy4 on July 9, 2012, 5:08 GMT

    diffrence is that sami might actually have an impact on the game while our dilhara would be wicketless (useless) as usually srsly cant believe this selection of dilhara fernando i would have given the chance to jeeven mendis ahead of dilhara as he showed lots of promise in the ODI but anyways hope Dilhara can prove me wrong in the next innings but i really doubt that he would pick up more than 2 wickets

  • Dummy4 on July 9, 2012, 2:44 GMT

    Junaid yesterday reminded me of Aamir. Would love to see him be back and bowling with this kid.

  • Prashan on July 9, 2012, 1:28 GMT

    @Syed Muhammad Mehdi, Pakistan was never going to win the 1st test. It was clearly for us.

  • Dummy4 on July 8, 2012, 21:47 GMT

    Parnavitharna got a way on Umer Guls bowling. It wuh have been 44/4 ! 2nd days morning session is crucial. Ball is just 15 overs old still new n it will definatly move around. Gud luck for Gul, Junaid n Sami :) Pakistan All They Way :) 1st tes ruined by Umpires, 2nd by rain wait for the 3rd one :P

  • Sachin on July 8, 2012, 21:30 GMT

    It was not the worst three balls @ejsiddiqui ut sanga is know to fail more in swinging conditions.

  • Dummy4 on July 8, 2012, 20:57 GMT

    juniad is turning out to be a gem. I know its a bit too early to call but seeing his progress over time, hes a prospect for sure.

  • Jawwad on July 8, 2012, 20:37 GMT

    Amazing. That ball to Sangara, I couldn't help but appreciate the resemblance to Wasim Akram's 92 WC ball's to Lamb and Lewis. Kudoos to the curator of this pitch.

  • Ejaz on July 8, 2012, 19:19 GMT

    Today was the worst three Balls Sanga has ever played.

  • Dummy4 on July 8, 2012, 16:43 GMT

    it's good to see the bowlers enjoying themselves with all these flat subcontinental pitches, I thought 250+ would be a good first inning score on this pitch which was gettable but Akmal, Gul and Sami threw it away! superb knock by Shafiq and what spell by Junaid!!!

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