GALLE: Ramesh Mendis chipped in with a lower order cameo and then claimed three wickets to put Sri Lanka on course for a significant first innings lead despite a fighting 62 by Pakistan batsman Agha Salman on day two of the second Test in Galle on Monday.
Batting at number nine, Mendis contributed 35 in Sri Lanka’s 378 all out at the Galle International Stadium. The off-spinner then returned to wreck Pakistan’s middle order and the tourists, who lead the two-match series 1-0, ended the day on 191-7, still 187 behind in their first innings.
Salman resisted the bowling attack with his maiden Test fifty but fell to Prabath Jayasuriya’s left-arm spin in the final moments of play before stumps was called. Jayasuriya got Salman caught at slip with a drifter coming into the right-handed batsman.
Yasir Shah survived 61 balls, and an lbw decision against him that was reversed, for his 13 not out.
Salman, who made his debut in the previous match, put on 46 runs with Yasir to lift Pakistan from 145-6. He expects the lower-order to fire come day three.
“It’s been my dream to play for Pakistan in Test match cricket,” Salman said. “Glad that I was able to score a half-century in my second game. Disappointed that I couldn’t see through today.
“The way the partnership was going, we wanted to see off the day and come back tomorrow to start afresh, but it’s cricket and it happens. It’s a still good wicket to bat and we have plenty of batters who are capable of getting us closer to Sri Lanka’s total.
“They were bowling well, to be very honest, and they were not giving runs, that’s why they took the wickets. They were playing patient games and we lacked that.”
Earlier, Pakistan fast bowler Naseem Shah and spinner Yasir split the last four Sri Lankan wickets after the hosts had resumed on 315-6 in former captain Angelo Mathews’ landmark 100th Test.
Niroshan Dickwella struck 51 and Mendis proved he was no dud with the bat to frustrate Pakistan. Naseem accounted for both overnight batters — Dunith Wellalage (11) and Dickwella — while Mendis was the last man dismissed.
Dickwella, who started the day on 42, hit six fours and one six in his 54-ball knock and believes the pitch will improve for batters in time for their second innings.
“Our bowlers bowled really well and that’s why we were able to get to seven wickets today,” he told reporters. “Tomorrow it will be a good wicket to bat.”
Pakistan stuttered early in their reply losing Abdullah Shafique, whose unbeaten 160 had secured their victory in the series opener, to the second ball of the innings.
Abdullah dragged the ball onto his stumps after an ugly poke at an Asitha Fernando delivery to be dismissed for a duck.
Pakistan captain Babar Azam (16) departed in a similar fashion, trying to drive a Prabath Jayasuriya delivery without getting to the pitch of the ball and creating an inside edge that crashed onto his stumps.
Opener Imam-ul-Haq attempted to rebuild the innings with Mohammad Rizwan but Dhananjaya de Silva broke through with his off-spin to send him back on 32.
Mohammad Rizwan and Fawad Alam, both made 24, also got the starts but could not convert them with Mendis trapping both lbw.
Rizwan also wasted a review trying to overturn the lbw decision against him.
Mendis removed Mahammad Nawaz for figures of 3-42 but Salman refused to throw in the towel. The right-hander hit four fours and a six and played the spinners on the front foot until his departure.
After being criticised for being unable to defend 342 runs in the first Test, the Sri Lankan spinners tightened their lines and bowled to good lengths in their bid to even the series.
“We have played four back-to-back games here and all four wickets were different to each other,” Dickwella said. “I would say this is the best wicket to bat. It’s still a good pitch to play.”
SRI LANKA (1st Innings, overnight 315-6): O. Fernando c Rizwan b Nawaz 50 D. Karunaratne c Naseem b Yasir 40 K. Mendis run out 3 A. Mathews c Rizwan b Nauman 42 D. Chandimal c Fawad b Nawaz 80 D. de Silva b Naseem 33 N. Dickwella c Rizwan b Naseem 51 D. Wellalage c Babar b Naseem 11 R. Mendis b Yasir 35 P. Jayasuriya lbw b Yasir 8 A. Fernando not out 4 EXTRAS (B-4, LB-5, NB-12) 21 TOTAL (all out, 103 overs) 378 FALL OF WICKETS: 1-92 (Oshada), 2-96 (K. Mendis), 3-120 (Karunaratne), 4-195 (Mathews), 5-258 (Chandimal), 6-290 (de Silva), 7-327 (Wellalage), 8-333 (Dickwella), 9-353 (Jayasuriya) BOWLING: Hasan 17-3-59-0 (1nb), Naseem 18-3-58-3 (7nb), Nauman 21-2-64-1 (2nb), Agha 6-0-25-0 (1nb), Nawaz 19-3-80-2, Yasir 22-2-83-3 (1nb) PAKISTAN (1st Innings): Abdullah Shafique b Fernando 0 Imam-ul-Haq b de Silva 32 Babar Azam b Jayasuriya 16 Mohammad Rizwan lbw b R. Mendis 24 Fawad Alam lbw b R. Mendis 24 Agha Salman c de Silva b Jayasuriya 62 Mohammad Nawaz c Dickwella b R. Mendis 12 Yasir Shah not out 13 EXTRAS (B-8) 8 TOTAL (for seven wickets, 69.4 overs) 191 STILL TO BAT: Hassan Ali, Nauman Ali, Naseem Shah FALL OF WICKETS: 1-0 (Abdullah), 2-35 (Babar), 3-65 (Imam), 4-88 (Rizwan), 5-119 (Fawad), 6-145 (Nawaz), 7-191 (Salman) BOWLING: Fernando 14-1-49-1, Jayasuriya 27.4-7-59-2, R. Mendis 18-5-42-3, De Silva 4-0-15-1, Wellalage 6-1-18-0
Published in Dawn, July 26th, 2022