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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 13 December 2018

Chandimal’s Abu Dhabi Test hundred proves he is a leader, says Sri Lanka coach

Pothas pleased after batsman’s 155 proves to be centrepiece of 419 by away side against Pakistan

Dinesh Chandimal scored his ninth Test hundred to put Sri Lanka in a strong position. Kamran Jebreili / AP Photo
Dinesh Chandimal scored his ninth Test hundred to put Sri Lanka in a strong position. Kamran Jebreili / AP Photo

Dinesh Chandimal led the way for Sri Lanka with an undefeated century against Pakistan on Day 2 of the first Test at Zayed Cricket Stadium.

The 27-year-old batsman’s 155 not out was the centrepiece of a total of 419 by the away side.

In reply, Pakistan’s openers, Shan Masood and Sami Aslam, were still together at the close.

They had made it to 64, meaning the home side trail by 355 runs with all their first innings wickets remaining.

It was Chandimal’s ninth Test hundred, and the first since taking over the captaincy in the long format from Angelo Mathews in July.

“Chandi is a leader,” said Nic Pothas, Sri Lanka’s coach. “He expects very high standards from his team, and he certainly sets a very good example, whether it be fielding, his fitness, his preparation.

“I am very happy for him. We have worked on some things with his batting, and he is very happy because those things have come good.”

The centurion was at the crease for 373 balls in the sapping heat. The attritional nature of his innings is not typical of a player who captained his country in the limited-overs formats first and is known for his strokemaking.

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“If you look at the past two centuries he made, against Bangladesh then against Australia at SSC last year, they followed a similar trend to this,” Pothas said.

“Yes, Chandi is a free-flowing player, but the mark of a Test match player is the ability to adapt to conditions and adapt your game. He certainly has done that.”

Chandimal had actually been the junior partner in a stand worth 134 with Niroshan Dickwella.

The Sri Lanka wicketkeeper played a sparkling hand, making 83 in 117 balls before becoming the second batsman in the innings, after Kaushal Silva, to drag a ball onto his stumps off Hasan Ali.

Mohammed Abbas returned the best figures among the overworked Pakistan bowlers, with 3-75.

He was also the only bowler to make it through the solid defences of Chandimal, too, although he had the agony of seeing his dismissal chalked off.

He bowled the Sri Lankan captain with a no-ball. Chandimal was on 154 at that point, though, and Abbas himself wrapped up the innings quickly after, with two wickets in two balls. The lanky seam bowler will start the second innings on a hat-trick.

Yasir Shah also ended with three wickets. They were hard earned, as the leg-spinner sent down 57 overs in the heat.

“The coach [Micky Arthur] had tasked me with getting wickets with the new ball,” Abbas said.

“I wasn’t successful in doing that. Our plan on the day, if we don’t get any wickets, was to bowl a tight line and length, and contain runs.

“We were, to an extent, successful in that. And at the end, I got an opportunity to take wickets and I succeeded in doing that.”