Pakistan adopt ‘bazball’ to take opening day honours

Shafique raced to 74 off just 99 balls by stumps. © AFP

After a batting freefall from Sri Lanka in the first innings as they folded for 166, their lowest first-innings total at the Sinhalese Sports Club in Colombo, Pakistan were in Bazball mode from the word go, consistently going at close to a run a ball, and only 21 runs short of drawing level with Sri Lanka’s first innings total by stumps on Day 1. This puts Pakistan in pole position to win the second Test and claim a 2-0 white-wash away from home.

In the final session, Pakistan’s innings started fluently but was quickly dented with the wicket of Imam-ul-Haq, who got an inside edge onto the thigh and lobbed the ball to gully for a sitter. Despite being given out, Imam surprisingly reviewed the decision, and UltraEdge revealed that there was an inside edge, sending Imam on his way, and burning one of Pakistan’s reviews in the process.

However, Shan Masood and Abullah Shafique started stroking the ball fluently, smashing boundaries indiscriminately to start another chapter in the globalization of England’s “Bazball”. In the twelfth over, just before reaching his half-century, Shafique was dropped by Jayasuriya who failed to hold on to a return catch.

The boundaries dried up slightly after the drop, but Masood soon got to a fifty at faster than a run-a-ball, as Pakistan asserted their dominance further on the first day of play. Soon after, a ball that stopped on the wicket accounted for Masood shortly after he reached his half-century, as the short ball was pulled to Ramesh Mendis at midwicket who took an impressive diving catch.

Earlier, Naseem Shah and co. had Sri Lanka’s top-order in a fix, rattling them to 79-4 at lunch, and after bringing to an end an 85-run stand between Chandimal and Dhananjaya de Silva, six wickets for 45 runs, courtesy the magnificent Abrar Ahmed.

The wicket of Chandimal had triggered a collapse of six wickets for 45 runs. The young leg-spinner got Samawickrama trapped for a duck, and two balls after being struck for six by the settled Dhananjaya, got rid of him too, courtesy a fabulous sliding catch from Saud Shakeel at cow corner.

Jayasuriya survived a catch at leg-slip that was given initially, courtesy DRS, but his relief didn’t last long, as he was run-out soon after by Shan Masood. A 27-run stand between Asitha Fernando and Ramesh Mendis offered some resistance, but Abrar Ahmed soon cleaned them up to put a dampener on their hopes, getting Sri Lanka all out for 166 within two sessions.

Brief Scores: Sri Lanka 166 all out (Dhananjaya de Silva 57, Abrar Ahmed 4-69, Naseem Shah 3-41) leadPakistan 145-2(Abdullah Shafique 74*, Shan Masood 51, Asitha Fernando 2-41) by 21 runs

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