Sri Lanka v Pakistan, 2nd Test, SSC, 1st day August 14, 2014

Seamers make it Pakistan's day


Sri Lanka 261 for 8 (Tharanga 92, Junaid 4-69, Wahab 3-66) v Pakistan
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Pakistan gave Mahela Jayawardene a guard of honour but were relieved to see his back not long after © AFP

Six thousand two hundred and twenty one days after earning his Test cap at the nearby Premadasa Stadium, Mahela Jayawardene's life as a Test cricketer came a full circle as he strode out for the last lap at the SSC, his favourite venue. Everything seemed like it was as per the script: bright skies, a firm pitch with nothing for the bowlers, Sri Lanka winning the toss and opting to bat and a solid platform by the openers. The farewell of one Sri Lanka's best batsman couldn't have been planned any better. Except, the Pakistan bowlers had their own agenda.

Jayawardene arrived at the crease for the 251st time, to a guard of honour by the Pakistan team and with the crackle of the firecrackers in the background, 25 minutes before tea. He was 137 short of 3000 runs at the venue but could only shave off four runs in a nervous stay that ended in the first over after tea. In the 16 deliveries that he faced, he was dropped once by the wicketkeeper off Junaid Khan before he was trapped by a sharp offspinner from Saeed Ajmal. He chose not to review, and rightly so.

Misbah-ul-Haq may have patted Jayawardene's back but at that moment, the relief of having dismissed Kumar Sangakkara, their tormentor in Galle, was still writ on Pakistan captain's face. In a rare failure, Sangakkara had been dismissed for 22 as he chopped on a length delivery from Wahab Riaz. He had added 65 for the second wicket with Upul Tharanga, who scored 92, at 4.33 runs an over. Jayawardene's dismissal soon after gave Pakistan the upper hand. The bowlers struck five more times in the third session to take control.

It was a solid effort from Pakistan on a pitch that had nothing for the bowlers. They stuck to disciplined lines and found the odd bit of life. Fortunately for Pakistan, it was one of those days where almost every time the ball did something, it induced a fatal error from the batsmen. That Pakistan had eight wickets by the end of the day despite dropping a few catches was evidence of the number of chances created.

Junaid got the odd ball to move off the pitch, Wahab, playing his first Test in three years, generated hustling pace, Abdur Rehman was disciplined throughout and Ajmal did better than the Mars Rover by finding life where there was none. And that, despite not being able to find a breakthrough in the first 33 overs during which it looked like the pitch was a bowler's graveyard.

Then, Junaid went round the stumps, pushed the compact Kaushal Silva back with a sharp bouncer, before luring the batsman into a loose drive off a widish-length delivery. Sarfraz Ahmed did the rest, taking a sharp chance low to his left, ending the opening stand at 79 - Sri Lanka's best since the 118-run stand in Dhaka in January. Silva, who had picked up five boundaries through point off Wahab, was dismissed for 41.

It was Wahab, though, who caught the biggest fish, picking up the wicket of Sangakkara. Initially a bit wayward, Wahab corrected his radar and posed problems with his pace. He troubled Tharanga with short ones and eventually picked up the opener through a sharp catch by Azhar Ali at short leg.

Till then, Tharanga had looked on course for his second Test century despite not being the most fluent. Junaid induced a couple of false strokes from him in the first over as some deliveries seamed away, he was beaten by Ajmal's turn, survived a stumping chance on 28 and picked up some runs off edges. But he also picked up 12 boundaries, most of them emphatic hits through off. One such shot - a fierce cut off Wahab - helped him cross fifty for the fifth time in Tests.

Ajmal had troubled Tharanga through the innings. In his fourth over, he beat an advancing Tharanga in the air only to see the wicketkeeper miss the stumping. The blame could hardly be laid on Sarfraz, though, because the ball had kicked off the pitch, smacking the keeper on the side of the head for which he required some treatment. The bowler also drew an outside edge off Tharanga but that dropped short of Younis Khan at first slip. But a sign of Tharanga's growing confidence was his two boundaries - both through the covers - off the spinner in the 47th over. However, he was dismissed 10 runs after Jayawardene's departure, leaving the repair job with Angelo Mathews.

But all Mathews could do was watch as Pakistan picked up wickets at regular intervals at the other end. Junaid trapped Niroshan Dickwella and Dilruwan Perera lbw in the first over with the second new ball, the DRS ruling in Pakistan's favour in both cases. Mathews joined the others in the pavilion soon, edging a short of length delivery from Wahab to the keeper, down the leg side. He reviewed, but lost. Strangely, the DRS had not been used during the first 80 overs at all. It was that sort of a day.

Devashish Fuloria is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • David on August 15, 2014, 14:56 GMT

    @ Gaurav Manchanda commented that "The same flat track bully Kohli smashed world's best bowler Malinga for 96 runs in his 7.2 overs in Australia."

    Wow - 96 in 7.2 overs. That is pretty amazing, and a whole lot more than Kohli has managed in in his last 8 test innings … oops, make that 9 innings as he has failed yet again.

  • Llewellyn on August 15, 2014, 5:57 GMT

    Its a pity teams like Sri Lanka, Pakistan and even South Africa do not get to play more tests. These truncated two-test affairs are robbing those teams, fans and cricket lovers of good cricket.

    Add New Zealand to that list too, they're showing fight these days and the Taylor / McCullum / Hesson turbulence seems to have subsided.

    It was interesting reading the comments from all matches beginning with the SA series. Using only these as a reference, I concluded that despite being played on so called roads, which apparently morph into minefields by day five, these tests are producing results. Teams are demonstrating the various tactics and strategies required to succeed on these wickets. Even the drawn match between SA was a result - one engineered by SA to ensure a series win, break a victory drought in SL and preserve their remarkable away record.

    Tactics that bring results. Fighting it out for five days. No rhetoric about processes.

    As an Indian I will take these any day.

  • Sinhhalaya on August 15, 2014, 5:55 GMT

    What a farewell. Its like celebrating the retirement of your favourite CEO by burning down the corporate headquarters. Tharanga who was the foremost among the batters to do the bulk of the damage was poor, to say the least. Kaushal with his educated edges would be a perfect sub-assistant coach to give under 11 or under 13s slip catching practice. As a test player, he is the pits. Defend stoutly or edge on the off is his mantra. The less said about MJ, Sanga and Mathews' batting on the day, the better. Thirimanne is woeful and is out of his depth. He is like an old Eastman Kodak slide that has been exposed time and again and now has lost its colour and vibrancy. Time to head to the archives for the vice captain. Pakistan will win this game and Mathews will come out with the old hackneyed phrase - we can "take the positives". As Ajith has indicated, the prospects, if any, for the future are pretty bleak.

  • Android on August 15, 2014, 5:49 GMT

    @sanjaya dias, well said man

  • Sachitra on August 15, 2014, 4:08 GMT

    Dilruwan Perera's transformation from an opening batsment to a walking wicket riddles me. Started his test career with a 95 and now he is one duck away to make his own mini shooting gallery

  • c on August 15, 2014, 3:59 GMT

    Just when I thought I'd heard every inconceivable things ever could be said about cricket Ajith Dias Abeygunawardena comes out with a GEM! - that SL must declare on overnight score on 1st day! And that after failing to put up a decent score on what Matthews called a BELTER!

  • Sachitra on August 15, 2014, 3:50 GMT

    Come on Mahela, another 90 runs in the second innings, or 40*, you can do it

  • Dummy4 on August 15, 2014, 3:43 GMT

    Tharanga responds with a fine knock. Thirimanna and Kusal yet to play responsible long innings in Test matches. Lets hope Welagedara can make a difference with the ball. Besides Angelo, SL is missing a good enough part time bowler in the team, which gives a huge workload to the main bowlers - unless they can finish off the Pakistan innings quickly.

  • Dummy4 on August 15, 2014, 3:36 GMT

    its funny to see some people commenting here as if we have already lost this match cos its only the first day that ended and there is long way to go in this match,regardlesss of the outcome i have to salute the pakistani players for there good freindly attitude on field and the humble pakistani fans who are gracious in both defeat and victory

  • Dummy4 on August 15, 2014, 3:11 GMT

    Pakistan took the honours celebrating their independence day in style. SL should be bold and declare on their overnight score and take the advantage of bowling in the first session to put pressure on Pakistan as it will be useless to keep batting. As usual the middle order batting of SL were found wanting and it is dreadful to think that without contributions from Mahela & Sanga how this team would fare in the future. The match is interestingly poised for a result. Good luck to both teams.

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