Tillakaratne Dilshan and Kumar Sangakkara hammered centuries as Sri Lanka walloped Pakistan on the opening day of the first Test in Galle.
Dilshan made 101, his first Test hundred on home soil in three years, and Sangakkara was unbeaten on 111 as the hosts ended the day on 300 for two after electing to bat. Captain Mahela Jayawardene kept Sangakkara company at the close on 55, the senior pair having put on 113 for the third wicket.
Dilshan eyes 500 for SL
Dilshan reached his 13th Test century just before the tea interval but failed to survive, dismissed in the next over by off-spinner Saeed Ajmal.
“This was a very satisfying innings because it came against a quality attack like Pakistan’s,” said the 35-year-old. “It was not an easy pitch to bat on because the ball has already started to turn and with a world class spinner like Saeed Ajmal, it was never going to be easy. If we can put up a first innings score of around 500 or so on the scoreboard, we will have a good chance of winning this match.”
The right-handed opener put on 63 for the first wicket with Tharanga Paranavitana and 124 for the second with Sangakkara to lay a solid foundation for a big first innings total. Sangakkara continued Dilshan’s good work as he moved to his 29th Test hundred. The elegant left-hander has so far hit 13 boundaries in his eighth Test hundred against Pakistan, and Jayawardene too settled down to strike eight boundaries.
Tough day for the bowlers
Pakistan’s bowlers toiled under the hard sun, but were hampered both by the slow pitch and unfavourable umpiring decisions.
Seamer Umar Gul deserved better figures than a wicket-less 17 overs for 55 runs as he beat the batsmen on several occasions, but found his loud appeals for edged catches or leg-before decisions being turned down. Ajmal was Pakistan’s only successful bowler with two for 81, while left-arm spinner Abdur Rehman returned with none for 89.
Pakistan’s lone success before lunch came when Paranavitana was stumped in Ajmal’s first over after making a scratchy 24. The left-hander should have gone on 15 when he was beaten by a Gul delivery, but umpire Ian Gould turned down a loud appeal for a catch at the wicket.
Replays showed a thin edge that could have been the end of Paranavitana’s innings but he survived because the Umpire Decision Review System is not being used in the series.
Hafeez still pleased
Mohammad Hafeez, captaining Pakistan for the first time in Tests following a one-match ban on Misbahul Haq for slow over-rates, brushed off queries from reporters on the umpiring.
“We were unlucky today but have no complaints at all as far as the umpiring is concerned,” said Hafeez. “I think given the conditions, we are happy to restrict Sri Lanka to 300 on the first day. Our bowlers really bowled well, but credit to Dilshan and Sangakkara for the way they batted and put on such a partnership for their team. There are still four days to go in the Test match and anything can happen, hopefully we will come back strongly in the game.”
The tourists awarded a Test cap to 32-year-old middle-order batsman Mohammad Ayub who is already a veteran of 93 first-class matches in which he has scored 6,074 runs.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 23rd, 2012.
More in SportsFrance plot downfall of pass masters Spain