Twenty-two wickets fall on riveting day
Sri Lanka A 97 (Mendis 40, Junaid 4-33, Azam 4-19) and 43 for 2 (Chandimal 16*, Junaid 2-19) lead Pakistan A 94 (Rameez 16, Senanayake 6-19, Lakmal 4-33) by 46 runs
Almost eight years ago, India and New Zealand played out an absorbing series where teams struggled to survive a session, let alone a day. The opening day of the second unofficial Test between Sri Lanka A and Pakistan A was reminiscent of the events in that series where green-top pitches enabled bowlers to dominate their opponents in a manner rarely witnessed in the decade gone by. Both teams were bowled out for under three-figures and there was more as Sri Lanka lost a couple of wickets in their second innings after securing a three-run lead.
Pakistan opted to field at the Mahinda Rajapakse Stadium in Hambantota, one of the venues for the 2011 World Cup. Pakistan would have hoped to put the hosts under pressure and did so with persistent strikes, allowing just three batsmen past double-figures. Opener Nadeera Nawla managed 28, surviving a horrid start where the first four wickets were lost for 14. Jeevan Mendis then batted fluently, scoring five boundaries in his knock of 40 but could only last so long against incisive spells from fast bowler Junaid Khan and medium pacer Hammad Azam, who was one of the main performers for Pakistan in the Under-19 World Cup in Australia earlier in the year. The pair bagged four wickets each to skittle the hosts for 97 but their team was at the receiving end soon after.
Again, there were two chief destroyers among the bowlers. Seamer Suranga Lakmal, who made his Sri Lanka debut this year, and offspinner Sachithra Senanayake combined to run through the Pakistan batting. Lakmal did the early damage, picking up the first three wickets with just 23 on the board before returning to dislodge Azam. Senanayake struck when the middle order was trying to revive the innings by gradually accumulating runs, but four wickets fell for ten runs at one stage to scupper any hopes of recovery. Senanayake finished with 6 for 19 and Pakistan slid to 94 all out.
Just when it seemed Sri Lanka had got themselves out of the hole to emerge front-runners, Junaid struck again to increase his day's tally to six by removing the openers in the second innings. On a day where 22 wickets fell, Sri Lanka led by 46 runs at the close with eight wickets in hand.