Sri Lanka Captain Dinesh Chandimal scored a magnificent 150 on Friday to place Sri Lanka in a strong position in the first test match against Pakistan played in Abu Dhabi.
Captain Dinesh Chandimal headed the resistance: his 109 not out off 291 balls was barely watchable, but invaluable given its context. Not only is it Chandimal’s first triple-figure score as Test captain, it has helped Sri Lanka surpass 300 for the first time in four Tests, and has put serious overs in the legs of the Pakistan bowlers. The seam-bowling trio of Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Abbas and Hasan Ali have now bowled 67 overs between them, while Yasir Shah has sent down 46 overs of legspin. Teams often aim to defang Yasir while tiring him out – a strategy Sri Lanka had used to moderately good effect at the end of their series against Pakistan in Sri Lanka, two years ago.
At many points in this innings, Chandimal had seemed to suffer from inertia, and the beginning of day two was much the same. Having begun the morning on 60, he scored only two runs off his first 20 balls. At the other end, Niroshan Dickwella set off with characteristic spunk, needing only four balls to move from his overnight 42, to a half-century. Dickwella was not reckless – as he sometimes can be – but unlike Chandimal, he was constantly looking for scoring opportunities. Balls skidded past the cordon after taking a thick outside edge, other deliveries were scythed to the backward square leg rope, and when Yasir came into the attack, Dickwella even ventured the reverse-sweep against the turn, collecting a boundary with that stroke. Otherwise he ran regular singles into the outfield, and generally seemed the more comfortable of the two men at the crease.
That is until his dismissal. Dickwella had repeatedly found runs to third man, off the seamers, and Hasan eventually used that to his advantage. Having moved the semi-new ball away from Dickwella, off the seam, he drew the batsman’s inside edge with a ball that jagged back, and the ball would ricochet into the stumps – the second such wicket Hasan has claimed in this innings. Dickwella had made 83 off 117 balls, and the partnership with Chandimal worth 134.
While Chandimal continued to amble, Dilruwan Perera’s rate of progress made his captain’s run-scoring seem rapid by comparison. For 32 deliveries, he was scoreless, and in that time, survived two close lbw shouts. On both occasions – once off Yasir, and the other off the bowling of Haris Sohail – Perera had been given out, but was found to have edged the ball on review. Even the excitement of Chandimal reaching his century with a sumptuous cover drive could not shake Perera out of his torpor. In the penultimate over before lunch, he found his first runs, and remains not out on 4 off 37.