Day two: Zulfiqar’s six-wicket haul hands Pakistanis slender lead

Spinner’s 6-31 helps tourists claim six-run advantage going into the final day.

Our Correspondent June 12, 2015
The match may have little significance but it was heartening for the team officials to see the bowlers perform. PHOTO: AFP


Left-arm spinner Zulfiqar Babar picked up a six-wicket haul as Pakistanis took a slender six-run lead in the first innings and finished day two on 27-1 against Sri Lanka Board President’s (SLBP) XI at the Colts Cricket Club Ground.

Shaan Masood was unbeaten on 13 while Azhar Ali was not out on three at stumps. Muhammad Hafeez was the only Pakistan batsman dismissed, bowled by Nisala Gamage for eight.

SLBP XI had resumed the day on 44-1 and suffered an early setback when Wahab Riaz dismissed Upul Tharanga for 35.

The home team were now 62-2 and threatened to capitulate but were steadied by Kaushal Silva and Jehan Mubarak’s 63-run stand.

Zulfiqar provided the breakthrough as he slipped one through the gate to remove Tharanga, who took 70 balls for his 28.

Skipper Dinesh Chandimal joined Silva but did not have much success, also falling prey to Zulfiqar after scoring 22 to leave SLBP XI 165-4.

Another 52-run stand between Silva and Milinda Siriwardana — who made a 63-ball 26 — threatened Pakistan’s first-inning lead, which was now in sight, but Zulfiqar had other ideas.

The veteran left-arm spinner showed his class when it mattered the most as he got better of Siriwardana to spark a collapse that saw the hosts lose six wickets for 24 runs.

Zulfiqar got another wicket on the very next ball as Niroshan Dickwella succumbed to a first-ball duck to leave his team in trouble at 217-6.

Gamage then came out into the middle to try and support Silva, who was single-handedly propelling his side towards Pakistan’s score.

The duo put up a vital 18-run stand which brought SLBP XI on brink of the lead but yet again Zulfiqar got the breakthrough, removing Gamage on 12.

Silva was caught six balls later by Younus Khan off Yasir Shah, having deservingly completed his century to end with 101.

This took the wind out of SLBP XI sails, who were now struggling on 235-8 and were dismissed on 241, with the spin duo accounting for the remaining two wickets as well to end with eight wickets between themselves.

While the match has little consequence or significance, the good bowling performance will surely help the bowlers going into the Tests. “It may be a practice match but it’s good that Pakistan have got a good start to the tour,” chief selector Haroon Rasheed told The Express Tribune. “I think our bowling is settling as a unit as well with Junaid, Wahab, Zulfiqar and Yasir, and they will only improve as they play more cricket together. We’ve got good youngsters coming through so it will keep the seniors on their toes and the competition is really healthy for Pakistan.”

Published in The Express Tribune, June 13th,  2015.

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