x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Pakistan crumble as Kulasekara swings it Sri Lanka's way

Sri Lanka seize control of the second Test by bowling Pakistan out for 90, their lowest total against the hosts.

Pakistan flopped with the bat for the second innings in a row as the visitors were bowled out for a paltry 90 on day one of the second Test against Sri Lanka at Colombo. Just five days after Pakistan crashed to 117 all out while chasing 168 to win the first Test, the Sri Lankan bowlers once again found little resistance from their opposition - barring Shoaib Malik who cracked an unbeaten 39. Fast bowler Nuwan Kulasekara was the destroyer-in-chief, taking four wickets for just 21 runs. He was more than ably supported by off-spinner Ajantha Mendis (three for 20) and left-arm fast bowler Thilan Thushara (two for 23). Sri Lanka captain Kumar Sangakkara then gave the World Twenty20 champions lessons in batting in the longer version of the game with a fluent 81 not out as the hosts reached 164 for three at stumps - already 74 runs ahead. It means Sri Lanka are well on their way to clinching their first home Test series win against their Asian counterparts. Earlier in the day, Younus Khan won the toss and elected to bat - with debutant Fawad Alam replacing Salman Butt at the top of the order - on a wicket that traditionally favours the seam bowlers in the early sessions of a Test match. Pakistan lost the wickets of Khurram Manzoor (three), Younus (nought), Mohammed Yousuf (10) and Misbah-ul-Haq (nought) in the first 45 minutes of play. They rallied briefly with Alam (16), who added 32 with Malik. The left-handed Alam fell when he shuffled across his stumps andAngelo Mathews seized on this technical weakness with aninswinger that trapped him lbw. Wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal fell just before lunch, slashing at a wide delivery from Thushara to be caught behind for nine. Having reached lunch on 74 for six, they slumped deeper into trouble after the break as Kulasekara pinned Abdur Rauf lbw for a duck. Mendis then worked his magic with the tail. But there was no doubting who the hero of the day was. Elevated to Sri Lanka's strike bowler following Lasith Malinga's injury and Chaminda Vaas's loss of form, Kulasekara was naturally a happy man yesterday, and more than willing to talk about his trade.

"I normally like to bowl in-swingers to right-handed batsmen. That's my natural delivery," he said. "But I've achieved a lot of success ever since I learnt to straighten the ball and swing it away. "I haven't tried too many variations such as the yorkers and the slower delivery in Tests. That's something I do regularly in one-dayers, but I didn't need to experiment too much here. "Getting wickets in Test cricket is a lot of hard work. But this morning things worked out well."

Kulasekara, the top-ranked bowler in the International Cricket Council's one-day international rankings, added: "My brief was to stick to a good line and length. Kumar [Sangakkara] had asked me at the start of the day to aim at a little short of the good length. "For the left-handers, I concentrated on angling the ball across the batsman and to around about first-slip position."