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The hero of the day Kaushal Silva celebrates his century on the third day of the first Test against Pakistan at the Galle International Stadium. | (AFP pic by Ishara S Kodikara)

Sa’adi Thawfeeq reporting from Galle
GALLE: Sri Lanka and Pakistan were involved in an absorbing contest of cat and mouse as each team strived to get the better of the other in the first cricket Test played at the Galle International Stadium on Friday.

Replying to Sri Lanka’s first innings of 300, Pakistan ended the third day on 118 for five wickets, trailing by 182 with two more days left in the match. The first day’s play was washed out by rain and only 64 overs were bowled on the second day.

Sri Lanka were greatly indebted to the steadfast batting of Kaushal Silva whose second Test hundred – 125 an enormous effort of 445 minutes and 300 balls was the cornerstone on which the total was built on. He hit 16 fours.

The sad aspect was that no one other than Kumar Sangakkara who made a half-century stayed long enough to lend the necessary support to Silva.

Angelo Mathews (19), Dinesh Chandimal (23) and Kithuruwan Vithanage (18) all made starts but failed to convert them into big scores. It was not that because the Pakistan bowling was unplayable but it was a lack of application and concentration that saw them play into the opposition’s hands.

But credit to the Pakistani bowlers who stuck to their guns with Zulfiqar Babar, Yasir Shah and Mohammad Hafeez accounting for seven of the wickets. Fast bowler Wahab Riaz took the other three. Sri Lanka would have been dismissed for a lower total than 300 had Pakistan been a bit more alert on the field.

The wicket lacked pace and is gradually beginning to get slow and at times the odd ball is keeping low. So from Pakistan’s point of view they need to get as close as possible to Sri Lanka’s total.

After Dhammika Prasad had done the early damage by removing their openers Mohammad Hafeez and Ahmed Shehzad for 11, Rangana Herath, the tormentor of the Pakistanis in the last series reduced them to 35-3 by trapping Azhar Ali lbw.

It was left to the experienced pair Younis Khan and Misbah-ul-Haq to rebuild the Pakistan innings. They did it to a point using their feet to the spinners well to put together a half-century partnership. Just as when they looked well settled for a big score Dilruwan Perera struck against the run of play bowling Younis for a well compiled 47. It was a major breakthrough for Sri Lanka and the onus lay heavily on the shoulders of Misbah to take Pakistan to safe waters.

But the persistence of the Lankan bowlers produced another important wicket when Nuwan Pradeep found the edge of Misbah’s bat and Sangakkara flinging himself to his left pulled off a smart catch at first slip to send back the Pakistan captain for 20.

Asad Shafiq (14) and Sarfraz Ahmed (15) were at the crease when a sharp burst of rain ended play early with 8.2 overs for the day going unutilized.

SCOREBOARD

SRI LANKA 1ST INNINGS

(178-3 continued)

D Karunaratne c Sarfraz b Riaz       21
K Silva c Sarfraz b Babar 125
K Sangakkara c Younis b Riaz  50
L Thirimanne c Babar b Hafeez       8
A Mathews b Riaz    19
D Chandimal b Babar      23
K Vithanage c and b Hafeez    18
D Perera Sarfraz b Yasir  15
D Prasad lbw b Babar     0
R Herath not out     6
N Pradeep c and b Yasir  4
Extras (lb-5, nb-4, w-2)  11
Total (all out, 109.3 overs)     300

Fall of wickets: 1-30 (Karunaratne), 2-142 (Sangakkara), 3-154 (Thirimanne), 4-189 (Mathews), 5-226 (Chandimal), 6-261 (Vithanage), 7-277 (Perera), 8-288 (Prasad), 9-291 (Silva), 10-300 (Pradeep).

Bowling: Junaid 16-5-38-0 (nb1), Riaz 26-3-74-3 (nb4, w1), Babar 27-8-64-3, Yasir 30.3-6-79-2, Hafeez 10-0-40-2.

PAKISTAN 1ST INNINGS

Mohammad Hafeez c Karunaratne b Prasad    2
Ahmed Shehzad lbw b Prasad 9
Azhar Ali lbw b Herath    8
Younis Khan b Perera     47
Misbah-ul-Haq c Sangakkara b Pradeep  20
Asad Shafiq not out 14
Sarfraz Ahmed not out    15
Extras (nb-3)   3
Total (five wickets at close, 41.4 overs)   118

Fall of wickets: 1-2 (Hafeez), 2-11 (Shehzad), 3-35 (Azhar), 4-86 (Younis), 5-96 (Misbah).

To bat: Wahab Riaz, Junaid Khan, Yasir Shah, Zulfiqar Babar.

Bowling: Prasad 9-2-24-2, Pradeep 9-1-36-1 (nb2), Herath 12.4-3-33-1, Perera 9-2-23-1, Mathews 2-1-2-0 (nb1).

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