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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