First Test


At P. Saravanamuttu Stadium, Colombo, August 9, 10, 11, 13. Pakistan won by 301 runs. Toss: Pakistan.

Sri Lanka's mistaken approach to Test cricket was epitomised by their leading batsman, De Silva, in their first innings of this match. He batted as if in a hurry to catch a plane, smashing 127 runs from 156 balls. It was quality entertainment for a sparse crowd, as he brought up his century with a six - for the third time in Tests - and struck 19 fours. But in the final count he only hastened defeat for his team. In contrast, Pakistan chose to graft on a pitch which got progressively slower and developed an uneven bounce, making stroke-making hazardous. Their professionalism was embodied by Saeed Anwar, the left-handed opener, who scored 94 and 136.

Sri Lanka selected three off-spinners, Dharmasena, Warnaweera and Muralitharan - but not Kalpage, who had troubled Pakistan in the one-day series - and only one specialist fast bowler, Wickremasinghe. Though the hard-working Dharmasena took eight wickets in his third Test, he and Warnaweera, who continued to be dogged by complaints about the legality of his action, tended to hurry the ball off the pitch, instead of giving it the air it needed to turn. In fact, the Pakistani spinners proved more effective. Mushtaq Ahmed took three wickets before tea on the second day and off-spinner Akram Raza claimed six in the match. The pace bowling of Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis was too good for Sri Lanka on any pitch. Wasim picked up eight wickets and though Waqar, returning after an appendicitis operation in April, was savaged by De Silva in the first innings, he had the last laugh on the fourth day, when he caught and bowled him with a slower ball.

On the first day, Pakistan reached 297 for six; Anwar narrowly missed his century before falling to Warnaweera, who shared most of the wickets with Dharmasena. Next day some ragged fielding helped the tourists advance to 390 after Inzamam-ul-Haq and Wasim, with a belligerent 37, took their stand to 85. At tea, Sri Lanka were 60 for four. Wasim removed Jayasuriya, who retained the opener's spot after his success in the one-day series, in his third over and then Mushtaq sparked a mini-collapse. But De Silva, in spanking form, and Tillekeratne halted the rout. De Silva punished Waqar persistently for bowling short on a slow pitch and reached his seventh Test century in the morning, though Raza subsequently dismissed him and the last two batsmen in one over. By the close, Pakistan had extended their lead by 238 and Anwar had completed his second Test hundred. After the rest day, he went on to 136 from 218 balls and Salim Malik reached an unbeaten fifty, passing 4,000 Test runs, before declaring. Needing 483 for victory, Sri Lanka were 75 for five at tea, with Gurusinha and De Silva falling to Waqar. They folded for 181 with 42 minutes of the day left; Ranatunga, in his 50th Test, delayed the inevitable with a lone hand of 41 from 43 balls, but Wasim polished off the tail with three wickets in ten deliveries.

Man of the Match: Saeed Anwar.

Close of play: First day, Pakistan 297-6 (Inzamam-ul-Haq 46*, Wasim Akram 22*); Second day, Sri Lanka 152-4 (P. A. De Silva 74*, H. P. Tillekeratne 25*); Third day, Pakistan 238-2 Saeed Anwar 110*, Salim Malik 15*).

© John Wisden & Co