Pakistan 46 for 1 (Shehzad 25*, Manzoor 21) trail Sri Lanka 204 (Mathews 91, Junaid 5-58, Bhatti 3-65) by 158 runs
Abu Dhabi: The Pakistan seamers shredded Sri Lanka’s batting in unthreatening conditions to wrest control after a manic second session in Abu Dhabi. Junaid Khan maintained his stranglehold over the Sri Lanka batsmen, picking up his fourth five-wicket haul against them, but central to the collapse was debutant Bilawal Bhatti’s post-lunch spell during which he picked up three wickets – two of them in one over. The twitter feed was abound with the question: “What did they eat for lunch?”
The pitch in its green guise didn’t offer much to the bowlers, but it was a mix of tight bowling and loose batting from Sri Lanka that resulted in their innings slipping off the precipice. From a comfortable 66 for 1 at lunch, Sri Lanka lost seven wickets for 58 runs and only a rearguard action from their captain, Angelo Mathews, who scored a counterattacking 91, prevented a complete capitulation.
Sri Lanka were eventually bowled out for 204 and Pakistan had a comfortable start to their innings till a run-out off the last ball took some sheen away. Khurram Manzoor was left stranded mid-pitch after dabbing a ball to cover, and Pakistan ended the day on 46 for 1.
It all started in the first over of the second session when Kaushal Silva – who had been patient, but circumspect, all morning – played inside the line of a short-of-a-length delivery from Bhatti only to edge it to the keeper. Sixty-six for 1 became 67 for 2, but Sri Lanka wouldn’t have worried too much about it as they had the experienced pair of Mahela Jayawardene, who was playing his first Test in almost a year, and Kumar Sangakkara in the middle.
That safety cushion was soon pulled away by Bhatti in his next over. He got his second delivery – probably the best of the day – to rear awkwardly on Jayawardene and the batsman edged it to the keeper. However, the TV umpire came to Jayawardene’s rescue as the replays showed the bowler had overstepped. The very next ball though – a yorker, Jayawardene edged it to Adnan Akmal again. Seventy-six for 2 became 76 for 3.
Two balls later, Chandimal played a poor shot, chasing a wide delivery, and paid the price as the edge flew straight to Misbah-ul-Haq at first slip. Seventy-six for 4.
At the other end, Sangakkara was watching the drama unfold but was unfazed and was defending solidly. However, three overs after Bhatti’s double-strike, his eyes lit up seeing Junaid bowl a wide, length ball. Nine out of 10 times, Sangakkara would have crashed it through covers, but today he slashed it straight to the cover-point fielder. Pakistan were ecstatic to see the back of their tormentor. Eighty-two for 5 now.
Junaid then added three more wickets – Prasanna Jayawardene edged to Akmal, before Sachithra Senanayake and Rangana Herath were removed off successive deliveries – to complete his five-for in an eight-over spell. Hundred-and-twenty-four for 8.
Running out of partners, Mathews tried to score whenever possible – he hit three boundaries in a Bhatti over immediately after Sangakkara’s departure – and brought up his half-century in 49 balls. He added a crucial 61 with Shaminda Eranga, who scored 14, for the ninth wicket and 19 for the tenth wicket during a period of play where Pakistan allowed him to farm the strike. He was finally stumped off a Saeed Ajmal doosra early in the third session, falling in the ninties for the third time in his career.
The dramatic second session was in complete contrast with the first, during which Sri Lanka, despite the loss of Dimuth Karunaratne, had looked comfortable after being put in to bat. The two openers added 50 in the first hour of the day as Pakistan didn’t make the impact they would have hoped for. However, the winds started changing direction in the second hour as the bowlers adjusted their lines and length to stem the flow of runs.
In the second over after the first drinks break, Junaid had a strong appeal for caught behind against Silva turned down by the umpire. Pakistan immediately called for a review – they had reasons to be confident as the ball made a sound as it passed the bat – but with no Hot Spot available for this series, the decision went in the favour of the batsman, extending Pakistan’s poor run with the DRS (Pakistan wasted another review in the 55th over).
Four overs later, Junaid had Karunaratne pushing away from the body and Asad Shafiq took a smart reflex catch at gully to end the 57-run opening-wicket stand. The wicket slowed Sri Lanka’s pace down – 16 runs came in the 12 overs after the drinks break. The runs dried up, and Pakistan had a feast after lunch.