Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Sri Lanka bowled out on first day again

Sri Lanka 239 (Sangakkara 78, Welegedara 48, Ajmal 3-45, Gul 3-78) v Pakistan
Live scorecard and ball-by-ball details

How they were out

Chanaka Welegedara and Rangana Herath put together the highest partnership of the Sri Lankan innings, 75 for the ninth wicket, to frustrate Pakistan deep on the first day. Welegedara added 48 to his 67 career runs, and Herath contributed with 29. The two fought bravely after tea, taking blows on their bodies, and putting behind them the plays and misses. Welegedara in particular drove well through the covers, hooked Umar Gul for a six during a heated over, and slogged Abdur Rehman for another even as he fought cramps. Saeed Ajmal, though, persisted long enough to get rid of both of them to once again dismiss Sri Lanka on the first day. Pakistan were left to face an awkward period of nine possible overs on what looked a new-ball pitch.

Tea Sri Lanka 176 for 8 (Welegedara 15*, Herath 6, Gul 3-49, Rehman 2-22, Junaid 2-57) v Pakistan
Live scorecard and ball-by-ball details
How they were out

Kumar Sangakkara pushes one into the off side, Pakistan v Sri Lanka, 2nd Test, Dubai, 1st day, October 26, 2011
Kumar Sangakkara drove with aplomb, pulled with precision, but couldn't farm the strike with the tail for company
Related Links
Matches: Pakistan v Sri Lanka at Dubai (DSC)
Series/Tournaments: Sri Lanka tour of United Arab Emirates
Teams: Pakistan | Sri Lanka

On the 59th anniversary of their first Test win, Pakistan fast bowlers moved on sensationally from the demoralising fielding debacle in Abu Dhabi. More crucially, Misbah-ul-Haq replaced Mohammad Hafeez at first slip, and accepted all three catches that came his way. However, they didn't completely exorcise the demons: Taufeeq Umar missed Kumar Sangakkara on 27, and the man whose sight Pakistan must be sick of by now went on to avoid a complete demolition job with a counterattacking 78.

That the successful completion of regulation catches deserves a mention before the bowling of Umar Gul and Junaid Khan tells the story of how extraordinary the quicks have been and how ordinary their support. Missing their third partner in crime, Aizaz Cheema who was dropped in favour of left-arm spinner Abdur Rehman, the two continued doing what they did in the first Test: create opportunity after opportunity. They also made up for the absence of the third seamer with 10-over spells before lunch, taking five wickets in the session.

Sangakkara, missing his partner in crime from the first Test, the injured Prasanna Jayawardene, had no option but to score as many as possible before he was left stranded. He drove with aplomb, pulled with precision, but couldn't farm the strike with the tail for company. The Pakistan spinners, though, made sure they didn't pay too much for misreading the pitch as they remained tight and took the last three out, including Sangakkara.

They were not the only ones to misread the track. It turned out to be a great toss to lose on the grass-less track. While not quite a demon, the pitch had enough seam and variable bounce in it to keep the Pakistan quicks in business. True to nature, they exploited every bit of life on offer. Gul got the ball to swing into the left-handed top three, and on odd occasion got it to seam away after shaping up to swing in. The variable bounce was obvious from how two early edges didn't carry to the cordon, and how on two occasions Gul missed out on lbws because of extra bounce.

Both Lahiru Thirimanne and Tharanga Paranavitana made the instinctive correction of planting the front foot across to cover the movement, leaving them prone to the balls moving in. Thirimanne survived one such shout because of the height, but was trapped dead plumb immediately after. Paranavitana played himself into a shell before finally playing a reckless cut. At first slip, Misbah held the ball close to his chest. Finally a Pakistani non-wicketkeeper had taken a catch in 178 overs of bowling.

More chances would soon come. Mahela Jayawardene got the classical delivery that angled in, pitched short of a length, drew him into the shot, then held its line, and took a healthy edge. Misbah was there to accept the low catch again. Dilshan, who seemed a much better batsman at the top of the order, played a loose punch outside off to give Misbah his third catch. Junaid's contribution to the dismissal cannot be overstated, though. In his sixth over, he went round the stumps, angled the ball in, making Dilshan play, and the open face did the rest.

At 45 for 4, after six overs each for the new-ball bowlers, Pakistan would have bitten his hand off if Cheema had offered to bowl first change. However, they had left out the big-hearted performer. Gul and Junaid, though, put in the extra hours. After Gul's unbroken 10-over spell, Junaid came to trouble Mathews from round the stumps. Even as Mathews walked down the track to counter movement, both his edges kept getting beaten. Twice he survived lbw shouts because he was hit on the thigh, twice his outside edge was beaten, one of his edges fell short. Finally Junaid produced one that held its line against the angle, kicked off just short of a length, and took a healthy edge.

In between Sangakkara played a rare loose shot, an uppish square-drive off Ajmal, but Taufeeq was late to attempt a high catch to his left at backward point. After lunch Sangakkara took matters in his own hands, scoring 49 of the 76 runs that came during his time after the interval. Even though Rehman trapped the debutant keeper Kaushal Silva to end a 54-run partnership, Pakistan now stopped trying to get Sangakkara out. At one stage they even forgot to bring the field up for the last ball of an over.

Sangakkara gladly took the single to retain the strike, but exposed Dhammika Prasad to Saeed Ajmal for four balls of the next over. Now Prasad had no clue which way Ajmal turned the ball, and despite a customary drop from Hafeez he edged the last ball of the over. Sangakkara took a risk against the first ball of the next over, but holed out to long-on. Just when you thought Pakistan would now run through the rest, Younis Khan dropped a sitter from Rangana Herath to make sure Pakistan would be bowling after tea.

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