DUBAI // Kumar Sangakkara concedes Sri Lanka face another back-to-the-wall battle after a disappointing start to the second Test at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium on Wednesday.
Sangakkara (78), who scored a double century in Abu Dhabi to save the first Test, found himself in a similar situation on Wednesday, with wickets tumbling around him. The former Sri Lanka captain, however, remained defiant until he chipped Abdur Rehman to Asad Shafiq at deep mid-on.
He was the eighth Sri Lankan wicket to fall and 200 looked a distant landmark, but a belligerent knock from number 10 Chanaka Welegedara (48) allowed them to post 239 in their first innings.
"It was just a case of getting through that new ball without losing too many wickets, probably identifying our roles a bit better as batsmen and making sure that the job is a bit easier for your teammates to come," said Sangakkara, who will be celebrating his 34th birthday on Thursday.
"But, having said that, I thought Pakistan used that new ball very well. There wasn't too much in that wicket, but they made good use of whatever there was. It was a bit disappointing from our side, but - again - it was a great fightback to get to 240-odd runs at the end of the day.
"Sometimes, when you don't have a great first innings, you need to claw your way back into the match. So every day and over that we play out there, there is an opportunity for us to get back in the game."
Umar Gul was responsible for Sri Lanka's early slide after they confidently decided to bat first. He dismissed Lahiru Thirimanne with his eight ball and later accounted for Tharanga Paranavitana and Mahela Jayawardene in the same over to leave Sri Lanka trotting at three for 30 from nine overs.
"Before the start of the match, the coach told us that there was a bit of moisture on the wicket and you can try and get five or six wickets," Gul said. "At that time, I was a bit surprised, but later I realised what he had said was true.
"So we are definitely very happy. At the moment we are on the top and will try our best on the second day."
The only blemish in the field for Pakistan was the 85 runs they allowed for the last two Sri Lanka wickets. The visitors were 154 for eight at the fall of Sangakkara's wicket, but Rangana Herath (29) and Welegedara (48) added 75 for the ninth wicket, and 10 more before the end of the innings.
"The wicket eased out later in the day," said Gul, explaining the lapse. We bowled to the basics in the morning, but I guess we started trying a bit too hard for wickets later and that is why were taken for some runs.
"Whatever advantage we could get from the wicket in the morning, we took it."