PAK vs SL: By scoring 89 runs for the final two wickets and cheaply taking off Pakistan’s openers, Sri Lanka successfully came back. In the closing hour of play on the first day of play in Galle, Sri Lanka ousted both of Pakistan’s openers as the hosts made a valiant comeback on a day that had mainly belonged to the visitors.
Imam-ul-Haq was caught lbw as Kasun Rajitha got one to nip back in from around the wicket. Rajitha’s bowling style is becoming known for this type of delivery, and Prabath Jayasuriya used one of these to dismiss Abdullah Shafique by striking him on the pads.
Azhar Ali and Babar Azam stopped playing after that and intended to bat out the rest of the day, but Sri Lanka would have definitely been encouraged when the pitch started to help the spinners. If not for the counterattacking efforts of Dinesh Chandimal and Maheesh Theekshana, who scored 76 and 38 runs, respectively, Pakistan would have finished the day 198 runs behind.
Chandimal’s counterattack and Theekshana’s dogged defence helped Sri Lanka reach a respectable total after Pakistan’s bowlers, led by the excellent.
Rise Of Shaheen Shah Afridi
He bowled like a quick bowler in a country he had never played in before and on a surface where only the best quick bowlers do well. Not at the box office. Right-handed pitchers driving an edge into the cordon from an off-stump line. One who snaps back at them from a length cuts lefties in half before rapping them on the pads. The crease is being hopped by new batters. Hooping yorkers with splayed-out stumps.
Shaheen, who does not yet have 100 wickets to his credit, is essentially the captain of this attack, which also includes a senior spinner making his comeback and a couple of even less experienced quicks. He bowls like a quick in a nation he has never visited and on a surface where only the best quicks thrive, and even they only seldom.
Shaheen uses angles in the bulk of his spells on the first day. When the left-hander is near the stumps, he pitches one ball to him that goes down the channel. After receiving two balls, he is cutting the return crease with his front foot and angling the ball back in. He would have someone cut back in off the seam in an ideal world, but hey, this is Galle. This field is less dry when it initially begins than the one for the first Test against Australia, albeit it is not precisely the same. If you want to get wet naturally, the ocean is 150 meters away. Beyond that, not much more is in the area.
At one point, Pakistan’s bowlers, led by the great Shaheen Shah Afridi, who finished with 4 for 58, threatened to blow them away. However, Chandimal’s counterattack and Theekshana’s dogged defence helped them get to a respectable total. Sri Lanka’s last two wickets added 89 runs to get them from 133 for 8 to 222, which is a much better score.
He conceded two fours in the first over of the day. However, only 13 runs were scored from the following four innings, one of which was a maiden. Although the figures are not outstanding, this is Galle. It’s challenging enough to be a fast for five overs.
The subsequent spell works better. He bets everything on Dhananjaya de Silva, perhaps in the hopes of getting the upper hand. He pitches a “maiden” and two more “dot balls” to this hitter before de Silva loses patience. He attempts to deliver a full delivery through the cover, but the shot is off, and a second one comes back off the inner edge.
When compared to his blitzkrieg performance against Australia less than a week earlier, Chandimal’s innings at moments reminded me of that performance. Even though he had to share much of his 115-ball 76 with Theekshana, the battle-weary former captain – ostensibly a tail-ender, even though some of his stroke play occasionally belied that definition – sliced, pulled, swept, and drove his way to a score.
His innings reached their peak just as Sri Lanka was at its lowest point after losing their ninth wicket a few overs earlier. Realizing that runs were scarce, Chandimal rose to the occasion by hitting Naseem Shah for three straight boundaries. The final brought up his 22nd Test fifty, a delightful front-foot clip that pierced deep square leg and deep fine leg and reached the ropes on the bounce.
The first two were short balls that were despised dispatched in front of square leg. However, he kept his greatest shot for Mohammed Nawaz, a left-arm spinner, whom he slog-swept for a maximum over square leg.
Chandimal undoubtedly would have played a more cautious inning if he had his way on the track, despite the fact that it wasn’t quite the blazing turner Galle is known for. But he had been forced to act by the wastefulness of his teammates. Sri Lanka’s skipper Dimuth Karunaratne made a terrible start by playing on his stumps after deciding to bat after winning the toss.
After 14 deliveries without a goal, Angelo Mathews quickly came after and took a straightforward catch off Yasir.
Only those four wickets were lost in the morning session; four more were lost after lunch in a session that began with Sri Lanka at 80 for 4.
Dhananjaya de Silva, who had replaced Kamindu Mendis while he recovered from Covid-19, was bowled by Afridi in the fifth over after the break. His second such ejection of the day.
Afridi dismissed Niroshan Dickwella with his first delivery of the very next over by angling one into the left-stump, hander’s tempting a drive, then seaming it just enough to snag a thick outside edge to gully, where youngster Agha Salman finished a wonderful low take.
Sri Lanka was battling to beat the 10 counts at that moment as they were 133 for 8 on the ground. Despite this, Chandimal and Theekshana did not back down, putting together a 44-run stand off just 65 deliveries. Theekshana and last man Kasun Rajitha would continue to annoy the guests while Chandimal fell shortly after tea, caught in the covers thanks to a superb grab by Yasir, diving full stretch to his right, off Hasan.
The two displayed a level of tenacity that some of their more accomplished counterparts would do well to heed on the road to a 70-ball 45-run stand. The two would bat for more than an hour, easily handling the short deliveries that the seamers sent their way and occasionally finding the openings in the covers. When Yasir and Nawaz spun, the forward defence was usually used in between.
Pakistan seemed to be growing increasingly irritated as Rajitha top-edged to deep square-leg only to be dropped by Hasan at deep square-leg. Pakistan might have had déjà vu after suffering yet another defeat to a rival with a bad attitude. The cost of that slip, though, wasn’t too high in the end. Afridi attempted an uppercut, which caused Theekshana to trip after a few deliveries.
The match seemed to be losing steam for much of the day, but Sri Lanka would feel as though they had made some progress at that moment, therefore his mission was finished.
Disclaimer: The insights expressed in this article are those of the author. This article was not written or edited by Empireweekly.com; it was published on July 18, 2022.