DUBAI - Srilanka made 227-4 against Pakistan on day one of their first Test at the Shaikh Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi.
Pakistan had predictably seemed on top after the first session, claiming three wickets against a circumspect Sri Lankan batting line-up.
A slow but steady opening partnership was ended when Hasan Ali burst through the defences of right-handed Kaushal Silva with the score at 34.
Sri Lanka had been going at less than two-an-over at that point and were made to rue their defensive approach as they lost another wicket the over later. This time it was spin that did the damage, with leg-spinner Yasir Shah catching Lahiru Thirimanne in front of the wicket for a duck.
The wicket was also Yasir’s 150th in Test cricket, making him the quickest spinner to reach the mark — having done so in just his 27thfive-day game.
Dimuth Karunaratne and the dangerous Kusal Mendis steadied the ship a bit but Yasir was at it again and had Mendis caught behind on the stroke of lunch.
A seemingly innocuous looking delivery came in with the angle to the right-hander but then straightened enough with the turn to get the edge of Mendis’s bat. Skipper Sarfraz Ahmed is prone to the occasional error behind the stumps but managed to grab onto the sharp chance despite fumbling it a bit to begin with.
Going into lunch, Sri Lanka were reeling at 61-3.
Pakistan though were guilty of removing their foot off the peddle a bit after lunch and Sri Lanka took full advantage of the lull in intensity from the hosts.
Karunaratne and skipper Dinesh Chandimal started the consolidation process. The runs came just as slowly as they did in the first session but this time around the two ensured there would be no quick flurry of wickets that overturned all the hard work done before.
A 100-run stand meant the next two sessions belonged to the visitors but Karunaratne was incredibly unlucky in being unable to complete his century.
The opener played the ball wide of mid-on and set off for a run which was there for the taking. Strike partner Chandimal though was caught ball-watching and didn’t leave his crease. With both players at one end, Sarfraz had all the time in the world to gather the ball and smash the stumps to send Karunaratne back just seven runs short of his century.
Chandimal, though, refused to let that momentary lapse of reason get the better of him and forged another impressive partnership, this time around with decidedly more aggressive Niroshan Dickwella.