With their dreadful ODI series performance behind them, Pakistan were looking to make a comeback of sorts in the 3-Test series which started today at the Galle stadium in Sri Lanka. The hosts had dominated almost every aspect of the game in the ODIs, with a thriller of a final which saw them win the series 3-1 in the last over. Pakistan would have, no doubt, been affected by this loss psychologically, so they were keen on getting an early advantage to help cope with the mental pressure.
Sri Lanka on the other hand, have been in excellent form. The series win had made them all the more confident and they would bring the game to the visitors will full force.
On day 1 of the first Test, with dark clouds nowhere to be seen, the game started. Lanka had won the toss and had elected to bat, with Paranavitana and Dilshan up to the crease. Pakistan needed a couple of early wickets here but it was not to be as Sri Lanka crossed the 50-run mark with ease. Paranavitana was the first to fall, getting stumped off Ajmal’s ball, the only bowler who seemed to be clicking.
As soon as Sangakkara came on to the field, familiar memories were in the air as one of the best partnering batsmen in the cricket world today, took charge. Dilshan was on a roll, smashing boundaries more than picking up singles. He got to his half century with just 49 balls, but slowed down considerably after that. Both the batsmen soon found out it was a free ticket to century and the made sure they boarded the flight.
Sangakkara reached his half century much later, doing a good job playing second fiddle to Dilshan who was at 85 at the time. The pace suddenly quickened again and soon, Dilshan got his impressive century, striking a fine boundary to cross the 3-digit mark. He had a lot more on his mind but wasn’t so lucky. He got out one over before tea. Ajmal, who took the 2 wickets, didn’t look very satisfied with his team’s result.
Just when Pakistan thought they had cleared their biggest hurdle of the innings, Sri Lankan captain Mahela Jayawardene made his way to the crease and it was deja-vu all over again. This time, the roles had changed, with the skipper helping Sangakkara reach his ton, which he did in a risky fashion in the 78th over of the day.
This was Sangakkara’s 29th century, equaling Sir Don Bradman’s record.
At the end of Day 1, a frustrated Pakistan side had seen two glorious centuries and a half-ton by the captain as well. They were on the wrong side of some bad decisions as well, but all-in-all, it wasn’t the start the men in green caps would have wanted.
Sri Lanka had reached 300 runs on the dot and lost just 2 wickets (both to Ajmal) which automatically put them in the driver’s seat. The batsmen at the crease aren’t going to slow down tomorrow, so Pakistan will need to have a long talk in the dressing rooms and figure out what it is that’s been letting them down.