First Test Match

Pakistan v Sri Lanka 1999-2000

At Rawalpindi, February 26, 27, 28, 29, March 1. Sri Lanka won by two wickets. Toss: Sri Lanka. Test debut: Younis Khan. When Sri Lanka, chasing 220 for victory, slumped to 177 for eight in the final session, Pakistan looked as if they could pull off a sensational win. But Ranatunga, batting with a broken thumb, joined Kaluwitharana in a fighting stand of 43 that saw their team to victory with 9.1 overs remaining. Ranatunga had retired hurt earlier after being struck on the hand by Waqar Younis, and might have been run out soon after his return. That escape, along with a missed catch at 172 for six when Kaluwitharana hit Abdur Razzaq to Waqar at mid-on, swung the gripping climax Sri Lanka's way.

The Pakistanis had looked dead and buried after the first day. Muralitharan and Wickremasinghe caused their batting to collapse from 135 for four to 182 all out, Pakistan's lowest against Sri Lanka at home. And Wasim Akram had limped off with a groin strain after bowling just 13 deliveries, leaving them with three front-line bowlers. (Saqlain Mushtaq, despite suffering from dehydration during the match, bowled 33 overs unchanged, except to switch ends, on the fifth day.) On the second day, de Silva, who played in the Tests after being overlooked for the one- day series, put Sri Lanka in a position of strength with a delightful 112, his 18th century in 80 Tests and his eighth in 17 against Pakistan. Together with Ranatunga, dropped third ball by Moin Khan before scoring, he put on 129 for the fifth wicket in 59 overs. When he was seventh out, having batted for more than six hours, faced 276 balls and stroked 12 forceful fours, Vaas took on the responsibility of extending Sri Lanka's lead to 171. Hitting an unbeaten 53, he added 51 for the ninth wicket with Zoysa and 22 more with Muralitharan.

Pakistan pulled back much of the deficit before a lapse of concentration and fading light ended Saeed Anwar's gritty 219-ball 84 two overs before stumps. At 148 for four, the advantage was back with Sri Lanka but, on the fourth day, debutant Younis Khan and Wasim gave Pakistan a glimmer of hope with a series-record ninth-wicket stand of 145. Pakistan were just 65 ahead when Wasim joined 22-year-old Younis Khan, who became the seventh Pakistani, and 66th overall, to make a century on Test debut. Surviving two dropped chances, he batted more than five hours for his 107, during which he hit 11 boundaries in 250 balls; Wasim, using a runner, was three and a quarter hours over his 79, which included ten fours. Muralitharan picked up another four wickets to finish with match figures of eight for 172.

Waqar removed Atapattu and Arnold in his first six overs, but Jayasuriya's sensibly paced half-century, his first as captain, looked to have booked a straightforward passage for Sri Lanka. If it did not turn out to be quite so simple, Jayasuriya never doubted which way the finish would go. "As long as Ranatunga was there, we were convinced we could win," he said. "He played a gem of an innings, like an injured tiger."

© John Wisden & Co