(ESPNcricinfo) Following the nightmare that was the series against India, Sri Lanka’s batsmen applied themselves, saw out Yasir Shah, resisted Hasan Ali’s reverse swing, and mustered a day of unexpected competence in Abu Dhabi. Instrumental to fitting this innings with a backbone was Dimuth Karunaratne, whose 93 was the latest in a string of valuable innings this year.
Sri Lanka had threatened to collapse again, going to lunch at 61 for 3, but the century stand between Karunaratne and Dinesh Chandimal raised them out of danger. Niroshan Dickwella then added a finishing spark to the day, hitting 42 off 63 balls, and Sri Lanka reached a comfortable – if not quite safe – 227 for 4 by stumps.
The day had begun with so much promise for Pakistan – Yasir striking twice in that first session – but the bowlers could not manage a breakthrough in the second session. Hasan was intense in a seven-over burst of reverse-swing before tea, but though he drew an outside edge from Chandimal, and an inside edge from Karunaratne, a dismissal did not come. Late in the day, Chandimal was given out lbw for 58 when he shouldered arms to Mohammad Abbas, but that decision was overturned on review. Pakistan also burned their own reviews trying to get Yasir another wicket. Under the new rules, reviews are not replenished after 80 overs, so they are at the mercy of the umpires for the remainder of this innings.
Of the four blows Sri Lanka suffered, at least two were the result of the pressure Pakistan had built. Batting in his first Test since June last year, at No. 3 no less, Lahiru Thirimanne was kept scoreless for six deliveries, and on his seventh, attempted a slog sweep off Yasir Shah. He missed and was out lbw. Then, late in the day, Karunaratne was run out for 93, having faced two consecutive maidens from Yasir.
The fault on that occasion, however, was Chandimal’s. Desperate to get off strike, Karunaratne had called Chandimal through as soon as he had flicked to midwicket. Chandimal was busy watching the ball, then turned his back on his partner. The single could have been comfortably taken.
Chandimal’s own half-century was a long, laboured thing, though given the travails his team has experienced over the past three months, perhaps he will feel this is just the kind of knock he needed to produce. It took him 52 balls to move to double figures, and 154 to get to his half century. Where once Chandimal had been the man to inject energy into the Sri Lanka top order, he has more recently specialised in these kinds of slow-burn knocks. He finished the day on 60 not out, having faced 184 deliveries.
Sri Lanka 1st innings
Dimuth Karunaratne run out (Abbas, S. Ahmed) 93
Kaushal Silva b H. Ali 12
Lahiru Thirimanne lbw b Shah 0
Kusal Mendis c S. Ahmed b Shah 10
Dinesh Chandimal not out 60
Niroshan Dickwella not out 42
Extras (lb-8 nb-2) 10
Total (for 4 wickets, 90 overs) 227
Fall of wickets: 1-34 K. Silva,2-35 L. Thirimanne,3-61 K. Mendis, 4-161 D. Karunaratne
To bat: D. Perera, R. Herath, S. Lakmal, L. Sandakan, N. Pradeep
Bowling Mohammad Amir 17 – 3 – 39 – 0 Mohammad Abbas 16 – 0 – 43 – 0(nb-1) Yasir Shah 34 – 8 – 59 – 2 Hasan Ali 17 – 4 – 58 – 1(nb-1) Shan Masood 1 – 1 – 0 – 0 Haris Sohail 4 – 0 – 14 – 0 Asad Shafiq 1 – 0 – 6 – 0
Umpire: Ian Gould Umpire: Nigel Llong
TV umpire: Richard Kettleborough
Match referee: Andy Pycroft