After receiving a hammering at the hands of India back home, Sri Lanka scripted a magnificent comeback and defeated Pakistan in the first Test at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium, Abu Dhabi. For the most part of the game, it seemed as if the match would end up without any result but the final day produced a gripping Test cricket and ultimately, Dinesh Chandinal and Co. prevailed in a thrilling finish.
Initially, Sri Lanka won the toss and without any doubts, elected to bat first. They were pegged back early as Kaushal Silva and Lahiru Thirimanne were sent back at the score of 35. Kusal Mendis too failed to last long and got out to Yasir Shah for 10. At 61/3, the visitors were in dire need of a partnership.
Chandimal’s inspiring hundred
The opener Dimuth Karunaratne, who was holding the fort, found his skipper Chandimal for support. The duo added 100 runs for the 4th wicket before Karunaratne got run out for 93 and missed out on a well-deserved ton. But Chandimal was unflustered and got the company of Niroshan Dickwella who was aggressive from the outset.
Chandimal went on to score a hundred while Dickwella too brought up his fifty. The partnership of 134 ended when Dickwella departed for 83. Dilruwan Perera hung in there for a while but there was very little resistance from the lower order. Chandimal stayed unbeaten at 155 as Sri Lanka ended with a stiff 419.
A solid batting display from Pakistan
The Pakistani innings got off to a solid start as the openers Shan Masood and Sami Aslam added 114 runs with each of them scoring half-centuries. But both of them were dismissed soon and the team was reduced to 116/2. Azhar Ali and Asad Shafiq added 79 runs for the 3rd wicket before the latter succumbed to Herath.
Azhar carried on to make 85 and put together 71 runs for the 4th wicket alongside Babar Azam. Haris Sohail held the fort alone with a solid knock of 76 but wickets kept falling at the other end. Ultimately, Pakistan were bowled out for 422 gaining a slender lead of 3 runs.
Yasir’s 5-fer brought life to the game
The match until that point was looking like ending in a draw but the last 2 days progressed rapidly to produce some wonderful cricket. Sri Lanka’s 2nd innings didn’t have any momentum and wickets kept falling at regular intervals. Niroshan Dickwella finished being the highest scorer with 40 runs not out.
The highest partnership of the innings was for the 9th wicket between Dickwella and Lakshan Sandakan of 34 runs. Yasir Shah bagged 5 wickets that restricted Sri Lanka for 138 which meant Pakistan had a target of 136 runs to win.
The ageless Herath proved to be the difference
It seemed as if the chase would be like a walk in the park for the home side but they made a mess of it. Herath drew first blood by sending back Sami Aslam for 2 and Suranga Lakmal accounted for the wicket of Azhar Ali. Dilruwan Perera dismissed Shan Masood to leave Pakistan reeling at 16/3.
Two more quick wickets put the home side deeper in trouble at 36/5. Haris Sohail and Sarfaraz Ahmed stuck in the middle for a while to keep the side in the hunt. But the stand of 42 was ended by Herath that proved to be the decisive blow. Perera removed Sohail and Herath went on bag 3 more wickets to end Pakistan’s innings at 114 in the 48th over.
Herath ended with 6 wickets in the innings and 11 overall in the game and was adjudged the Man of the Match. Sri Lanka inflicted a brilliant victory by 21 runs and took a 1-0 lead in the 2-Test series.
Sri Lanka won the toss and opted to bat first
Sri Lanka 1st innings: 419/10 in 154.5 overs
Dinesh Chandimal 155, Dimuth Karunaratne 93
Mohammad Abbas 75/3, Yasir Shah 120/3
Pakistan 1st innings: 422/10 in 162.3 overs
Azhar Ali 85, Haris Sohail 76
Rangana Herath 93/5, Suranga Lakmal 42/2
Sri Lanka 2nd innings: 138/10 in 66.5 overs
Niroshan Dickwella 40, Kaushal Silva 25
Yasir Shah 51/5, Mohammad Abbas 22/2
Pakistan 2nd innings: 114/10 in 47.4 overs
Haris Sohail 34, Asad Shafiq 20
Rangana Herath 43/6, Dilruwan Perera 46/3
Sri Lanka won by 21 runs
Player of the match: Rangana Herath