x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Pakistan waste a good start in Colombo

The visitors lose both openers early as debutants Aamer and Rauf peg Sri Lanka back to 292 after Paranavitana's fighting 72.

COLOMBO // The teenaged fast bowler Mohammad Aamer led Pakistan's spirited new-look attack to bowl out Sri Lanka for 292 on the opening day of the first Test yesterday - but the visitors got off to a tottering start themselves. Pakistan were 15 for two in reply at stumps with captain Younus Khan on seven and nightwatchman Abdur Rauf yet to score after the openers, Salman Butt and Khurram Manzoor, had fallen in the first four overs.

Butt was bowled by Nuwan Kulasekera off the second ball of the innings and Manzoor was trapped leg-before by Thilan Thushara to set up a thrilling contest ahead. Earlier Aamer, a 17-year-old left-armer, grabbed three wickets and fellow debutant Rauf picked up two after Younus sent Sri Lanka in to bat on a wicket freshened up by early morning rain. Younus himself took two for 23 while Kamran Akmal claimed four catches and a stumping as Sri Lanka slipped to 194 for six before the lower-order fought back.

Left-handed opener Tharanga Paranavitana was Sri Lanka's saviour with 72, adding 75 for the third wicket with Mahela Jayawardene (30) and 43 for the fourth with Thilan Samaraweera (31). Sri Lanka's lone debutant, Angelo Mathews, boosted the tail with a sparkling 42 off 57 balls during a 47-run stand for the seventh wicket with Kulasekera, who made 38. The three-match series is the first between the two nations since armed gunmen attacked the Sri Lankan team bus in Lahore on March 3 while the squad were enroute to the stadium for their second Test.

Aamer, one of Pakistan's heroes in the triumphant World Twenty20 campaign last month, justified his Test debut at the expense of seasoned all-rounder Abdur Razzaq. Aamer should have had two more wickets but Shoaib Malik dropped Paranavitana, then on four, and Akmal let off Jayawardene before the batsman had scored a run. Akmal made amends 90 minutes later when he snapped up Jayawardene off Rauf, but not before he had partnered Paranavitana in the rescue act. Umar Gul, the only specialist bowler with previous Test experience, earned his first success soon after and debutant off-spinner Saeed Ajmal claimed the last two wickets.

* AFP