|Scorecard:||Pakistan v Sri Lanka|
|Player:||BSM Warnapura, DPMD Jayawardene, TT Samaraweera|
|Event:||Sri Lanka in Pakistan 2008/09|
DateLine: 21st February 2009
It was Pakistan's first Test in 14 months and they got off to a good start when Umar Gul removed the debutant Tharanga Paranavitana for a first-ball duck. Interestingly, Warnapura had suffered the same fate in his debut Test against Bangladesh and today he showed how much he has progressed as a batsman. Warnapura, a front-foot player earns his living off the front foot but took care not to lunge early and thus avoided getting into uncomfortable positions when the bouncers arrived. The Pakistan seamers overdid the bouncer-tactic initially and he prospered. In the later half of the session, they erred on the fuller length and Warnapura kept driving them with ease.
Debutant Sohail Khan and Umar Gul bowled badly throughout. They did get a few good balls to cut away from the left-handers but the consistency was lacking. Yasir Arafat, on the other hand, settled down very quickly to bowl a tight line and length. He repeatedly got the ball to cut in and on occasions got it to hold its line. Sangakkara was lucky to survive a very close lbw decision that went in his favour,otherwise it was a typically assured knock from Sangakkara. He cashed in on every run-scoring opportunity; there was a delightful upper cut against Sohail and a punchy drive on his knees off Arafat and together with a tentative Jayawardene took Sri Lanka to lunch with score reading at 120 for the loss of two wickets.
Post-lunch it was Sri Lanka's session as they grew in strength and piled misery upon the Pakistani bowlers as Sri Lanka ensured they cashed in after winning the toss on a good batting track. During this session Jayawardene looked more assured of himself and the ball repeatedly located the middle of the bat as he repeatedly punished the erring Pakistani bowlers. He did get a reprieve at 43 when he played a delivery from Sohail Khan away from his body but Misbah-ul-Haq, who held three sharp catches that included a diving effort to dismiss Warnapura, spilled it in the slips. Sangakkara looked very much fluent in his innings till he tried to loft Kaneria over the infield only to be snapped by an alert Misbah-ul-Haq at short midwicket.
That breakthrough provided a boost in confidence for Kaneria as he started probing, Thilan Samaraweera in particular, with series of legbreaks, occasional googlies, and the odd front-of-the hand slider. Samaraweera grew in confidence as time progressed and began to get aggressive as time passed. As he started finding his feet, Kaneria started losing his as boundary balls started to appear in each ball and Younis Khan had no other option other than replacing him with Shoaib Malik. At tea the Sri Lankan scorecard read a formidable 248 for 3.
The final session just got worse for Pakistan as the pair of Samaraweera and Jayawardene grew in strength and confidence as both the batsmen registered their respective centuries. The Pakistani bowlers seemed like they have lost their heart and offered way too many loose balls as the batsmen looked to increase the scoring rate. With virtually nothing from the pitch, the bowlers were made to toil hard with once again a catch being floored at an important juncture, Sohail Khan the unlucky bowler, Jayawardene the batsmen and Malik the culprit. Gul could not find the swing, Sohail Khan could not locate the perfect spot and when he did, the catch was dropped, Arafat had his own limitations, Malik could only try to block runs and Kaneria again leaked runs without any control. Though the batsmen were troubled with some short-pitched stuff, Pakistani bowlers could not sustain the pressure as boundary ball appeared almost every over.
Of the two Samaraweera was the most enterprising as he used his feet to both the pacers and the spinners. Compared to Jayawardene his innings was chance less as he cut, pulled and drove the Pakistani bowlers to distraction to score his eight Test century of his career. While Samaraweera used aggression to blunt the Pakistani attack, Jayawardene nudged around to rotate the strike. Together the pair added 229 for the fourth wicket and the Sri Lankan run rate remained at an healthy 4.51 at the end of the day as Sri Lanka ended the day at a strong position with a score of 406 for the loss of just three wickets.