x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

Sri Lanka in command against Pakistan

Centuries by Thilan Samaraweera and Kumar Sangakkara help Sri Lanka close the day 317-4 on the opening day of the second Test.

LAHORE // Centuries by Thilan Samaraweera and Kumar Sangakkara gave Sri Lanka an early advantage against a sloppy Pakistan on the opening day of the second Test. Samaraweera was unbeaten on 133 off 205 balls while Sangakkara was dismissed late on day one for 104 as Sri Lanka closed the day at 317-4. Bad light brought an early stumps with more than three overs remaining. Tillakaratne Dilshan was the other unbeaten batsman, on three. Samaraweera - who scored a double century in the drawn first Test last week - continued his form, hitting 19 fours and sharing a 204-run fourth wicket stand with Sangakkara.

Pakistan finally broke the stand with the aid of the second new ball, as the seamer Yasir Arafat found a thin edge of Sangakkara's bat. Sangakkara faced 210 balls in his patient knock, which included only eight fours. Pakistan's shoddy fielding meant the hosts failed to capitalise on a wicket with enough encouragement for bowlers to prompt the captain Younis Khan to send Sri Lanka in after winning the toss, which even surprised Sangakkara.

"The pitch was pretty good," Sangakkara said. "I was a bit surprised to be put in after losing the toss because it seemed to be a good batting wicket." Both Sangakkara and Samaraweera were dropped soon after they completed their half centuries. Faisal Iqbal spilled a low chance close to the wicket when Sangakkara was on 55 while Kamran Akmal missed a sharp edge with Samaraweera on 68. Sangakkara also survived a caught behind appeal on an attempted pullshot when on 35.

The pair came together with Sri Lanka on a shaky 98-3 after the dismissal of captain Mahela Jayawardene (30), who was leading Sri Lanka for the last time before standing down as skipper. "With three wicket down it was just a case of batting and batting long," Sangakkara said. "I had a good partnership with Samaraweera and I think he is batting best of all our batsmen." Gul (3-67) found the outside edge of Jayawardene's bat in the third over after lunch and Akmal took a brilliant diving catch low to his right.

Earlier, the fast bowler Gul extracted bounce and movement from the Gaddafi Stadium wicket and struck twice inside the first hour to remove the Sri Lanka openers Malinda Warnapura and Tharanga Paranavitana. Misbah-ul-Haq took a neat, ankle-high catch at first slip to dismiss Warnapura (8) in Gul's third over before Paranavitana (21) attempted an extravagant cut shot and Malik took a reflex catch in the gully.

Sri Lanka surprisingly dropped the experienced fast bowler Chaminda Vaas and brought in Thilan Thushara, while Pakistan replaced Sohail Khan with the 20-year-old rookie Mohammad Talha. Talha finished with 0-50, including seven no-balls and was not given the second new ball. *AP