Karunaratne century keeps Pakistan at bay in 2nd Test
DUBAI – Dimuth Karunaratne anchored a strong batting performance by Sri Lanka, who reached 254 for 3 on the opening day of the second Test against Pakistan, negating any fears the team had of playing with a pink ball for the first time.
Sarfraz Ahmed, the Pakistan captain, lost a crucial toss and the home team was made to toil for the 90 overs bowled on Friday, as Karunaratne hit a brilliant 133 not out in a stay that has spanned 281 balls so far. Dinesh Chandimal, the Sri Lanka captain, was giving him company on 49 not out, with the duo having added an unbeaten 118 runs for the fourth wicket at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium in Dubai.
Karunaratne was once again at his confident best, driving and cutting with authority. He never looked in any trouble, reaching his seventh hundred, having been unlucky to be deprived of it in the first Test in Abu Dhabi when he fell for 93. He smashed two boundaries off Mohammad Amir, the second an exquisite cut through point to reach the three-figure mark off 197 balls. So accurate was his strokeplay that not a single ball caught him on the pads. He has hit 15 boundaries and a six so far, showing complete domination on a flat pitch.
This match began as a carbon copy of the first Test, with Chandimal winning the toss on a pitch reminiscent of the one the two teams played on in Abu Dhabi, and instantly deciding to bat. Yasir Shah came on to bowl in the 11th over, just like he did in Abu Dhabi. Pakistan will hope, however, that the result doesn’t remain the same because unless it wins this Test and levels the series, its seven-year unbeaten run in the United Arab Emirates will come to an end.
Both teams had entered the match with three pacers, based on the assumption that the new ball would aid fast bowlers. However, those hopes were belied as only Amir was among the wickets for Pakistan, while Yasir took two on another laborious day.
Yasir had bowled 84 overs in the first Test, and the legspinner shouldered the burden of bowling the most here too, sending down 29.3 overs for returns of 2 for 90. He had to complete Amir’s 17th over after the pacer limped off with a niggle, another worrying sign for Pakistan. Amir had 1 for 59 in 16.3 overs.
Sadeera Samarawickrama, the debutant, made a confident start to Test cricket during his innings of 38, studded with five boundaries and a straight six off Yasir off just 35 balls. Samarawickrama’s selection was expected after he had amassed 1016 runs in Sri Lanka’s Premier League Tournament this year. It was only off a slower ball from Amir that he lost his wicket, flicking too early to be caught and bowled.
Pakistan will have to turn that around quickly on day two, since without early wickets, Sri Lanka will put itself in a strong position to not just rack up a big total, but also take one more step towards a series win.