First Test Match

Sri Lanka v Pakistan 2000

Toss: Sri Lanka. Test debut: C. R. D. Fernando.

Wasim Akram upstaged Sri Lanka's 100th-Test celebrations with a virtuoso performance. On the third day, he kept Pakistan in contention with a fighting innings of 78, adding 90 for the last wicket with Arshad Khan to restrict Sri Lanka's first-innings lead to seven. Next, he demolished the home side's second innings with his 25th five-wicket return in Tests, including his 400th Test wicket, and set Pakistan up for victory inside four days.

With the start being delayed until three o'clock because of the wet outfield, and bad light bringing an early close, the first day contained only 42 overs. Atapattu, promoted to vice-captain, took three hours to reach fifty, but responsible batting was essential after Waqar Younis removed Jayasuriya and Arnold in successive overs. Jayawardene, the former deputy, was also steadfast, batting three and three-quarter hours, but Waqar and Arshad worked away at the innings. When Wasim caught Muralitharan at mid-on to end the innings, Waqar in his 65th Test became the third Pakistan bowler to take 300 wickets, after Wasim himself and Imran Khan.

Pakistan were batting just before tea on the second day, and after losing five for 17 next morning to Muralitharan and Zoysa they were down to their last pair before lunch. Murali already had his 19th five-wicket haul and Sri Lanka were looking forward to extending their lead through the afternoon. Instead, Wasim and Arshad were still there at tea, having added 87; their eventual 90 together, of which Arshad's share was nine, set a tenth-wicket record for Tests between these countries. By his usual batting standards, Wasim's 78 off 204 balls was a circumspect affair, and the way he shielded his partner for three hours showed his commitment to the team effort. Nor was he finished with the Sri Lankans.

He began their second innings with a piece of history of his own: Arnold, caught at second slip, was his 400th Test wicket. He wrapped it up with a clatter of wickets, removing Vaas and Zoysa with successive balls and firing out debutant seamer Dilhara Fernando in his next over. It was Wasim at his wicked best, swinging the ball fast and late and hitting the seam. His other wicket was Ranatunga, himself making history as the first player to appear in his country's first and 100th Test matches. But that was Ranatunga's only mark. In the first innings, he was run out for six by Mushtaq Ahmed's direct hit; second time round, he made just seven. Bundled out for a shocking 123, the Sri Lankans left Pakistan more than four and a half sessions to make 131.

They looked to be cruising as Mohammad Wasim and Yousuf Youhana reached 50 on the stroke of tea. Immediately after the break, though, Muralitharan removed them both in three balls, and soon accounted for Inzamam-ul-Haq. Murali was turning the ball prodigiously and, with more runs to play with, would have proved a handful. However, Wasim, batting higher up the order than usual, was already settling in, and his presence calmed Pakistan's nerves as he guided them to victory.

© John Wisden & Co