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Pakistan 145 for 2 (Shafique 74*, Masood 51, Fernando 2-41) trail Sri Lanka 166 (Dhananjaya 57, Chandimal 34, Abrar 4-69, Naseem 3-41) by 21 runs
As for the hosts, they were architects of their own downfall, capitulating for 166 before tea after batting first on what looked like a pretty good surface. It was not the performance Dimuth Karunaratne envisioned when he elected to bat following a delayed start due to rain.
A combination of poor shot selections and outstanding fielding saw just four Sri Lankan batters reach double figures before the innings folded. Of those, only Dhananjaya de Silva passed fifty, top scoring with 57. For Pakistan, Abrar Ahmed ended with 4 for 69, while Naseem Shah picked 3 for 41, as they ran roughshod over the Sri Lankan batters. But it was once again Pakistan's fielding that was the highlight.
Shan Masood, whose 47-ball 51 would assert Pakistan's dominance later in the day, set the tone at the start of the game itself, effecting a direct hit to run Nishan Madushka out in the third over of the day. He would repeat the trick to run Prabath Jayasuriya out towards the close of the innings.
In between, Sadeera Samarawickrama was caught expertly at short leg for the third time in as many innings, while Dhananjaya was also dismissed courtesy of a sharp catch in the deep.
And when Pakistan weren't producing such brilliance on the field, Sri Lanka's batters were offering up gifts, such as when Angelo Mathews edged through poking outside off, or when Kusal Mendis carved straight to point, as well as Dinesh Chandimal top-edging gently to midwicket. You could include Ramesh Mendis in this as well, but by the time he fell, any prospect of the innings being salvaged was all but gone.
At this point, it was already clear that Sri Lanka had squandered good conditions, but to ram home the point further, Pakistan sprinted along at nearly seven an over for large parts of their innings.
After Imam-ul-Haq was caught out cheaply, looking to fend off a short one, Shafique and Masood proceeded to dismantle the bowling. No area of the ground was safe, but both particularly favoured the straight boundaries, with three sixes being pummelled down the ground. The pair put together 108 runs at a rate of 5.58 before Masood top-edged one for Kusal at midwicket to take a sharp catch with the ball falling over his shoulder.
While Pakistan's rate of scoring reduced considerably following this dismissal, that was just as likely down to the skies darkening and the day winding to a close.
Sri Lanka didn't help themselves either, failing to take up a review on a lbw that was turned down against Masood, with replays showing that it would have been overturned. Then Shafique, who had earlier been dropped on the return by Jayasuriya, was saved by DRS just prior to stumps when he was given out lbw on-field, but replays showed the ball bouncing over.
Pakistan have been brave with their approach, and it could be a long day in the field for Sri Lanka if the visitors continue with the same approach.
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