First Test Match

PAKISTAN v SRI LANKA

Toss: Pakistan. Test debuts: Ijaz Ahmed, jun., Saqlain Mushtaq.

Pakistan's emphatic win, by an innings and 40 runs inside four days, was an encouraging start for their latest captain, Ramiz Raja, who led by example. He had taken over the job after the dismissal of Salim Malik, under investigation because of Australian allegations of attempted bribery. Ramiz had not played Test cricket since 1993; neither had Shoaib Mohammad, and, as well as two debutants, Pakistan welcomed back Waqar Younis, absent since pulling out of the Johannesburg Test in January with a stress fracture. The city of Peshawar was also making a Test comeback after a rather longer gap; it had staged one Test, with India the visitors, in 1955 at the Services Ground. This match was played at the Arbab Niaz Stadium, Test cricket's 75th venue. It was not a trouble-free debut. On the first day, tea was taken early, when some of the crowd threw glass at the Sri Lankan fielders, and on the fourth a firecracker was thrown at Wasim Akram.

Wasim was to be the Sri Lankan' chief tormentor. Bowling with sustained accuracy, he pulverised their first innings with five for 55: they collapsed in 62 overs. But Pakistan had dominated from the opening day, when they scored 235 for three before bad light stopped play. Ramiz had just mishooked Vaas, in the fading hours of the day, after adding 132 with Inzamam-ul-Haq. Inzamam was unlucky to miss his century next morning, falling leg-before to Vaas after five hours. Shoaib scored another fifty, then Wasim and Moin Khan put on 82 in even time to take Pakistan past 400. Ramiz declared an hour after tea on the second day at 459 for nine.

Sri Lanka lost no wickets that evening, but by the third-day close they were 86 for two in their second innings, having followed on 273 behind, and staring defeat in the face. They had reached lunch at a respectable 102 for four - with wickets for Saqlain Mushtaq, the 18-year-old off-spinner, in his second and third overs in Test cricket. But they lost their next four for 41 as Wasim scythed down the middle order. Only the ninth-wicket stand of 41 between Tillekeratne and Muralitharan provided some respectability; Tillekeratne defied the bowlers for 145 minutes in a vain attempt to avert the follow-on.

Sri Lanka began the fourth day needing 187 to make Pakistan bat again. They lost their overnight batsmen with just three runs added but their captain, Arjuna Ranatunga, and Tillekeratne then put on 125 for the fifth wicket. Once Ranatunga was caught at first slip off Aamir Sohail, however, the last six wickets fell for only 19. Sohail, with his best return for Pakistan, Saqlain and Wasim hastened Sri Lanka's demise.

Man of the Match: Wasim Akram.

Close of Play: First day, Pakistan 235-3 (Inzamam-ul-Haq 65*, Shoaib Mohammad 1*); Second day, Sri Lanka 23-0 (R. S. Mahanama 18*, U. C. Hathurusinghe 5*); Third day, Sri Lanka 86-2 (U. C. Hathurusinghe 53*, Ranatunga 17*).

© John Wisden & Co