Visitors bundle out shaky Pakistan for 191


KARACHI: Pakistan ended the opening day of the final Test against Sri Lanka as a side under pressure.But they had all the opportunities to end it differently. Desperate to win the two-match series decider, Pakistan were perfectly placed to gain an early upper hand after opting to bat first on a pleasant morning at the National Stadium. Instead, they allowed Sri Lanka to take control as they were bowled out for just 191 in 59.3 overs.Pakistan’s top order flopped again with opener Shan Masood and under-fire skipper Azhar Ali falling cheaply leaving them reeling at 10-2. Opener Abid Ali, who scored a century on debut in the first Test in Pindi, chipped in with a 66-ball 38 before a fourth-wicket partnership of 62 between the team’s premier batting duo – Babar Azam and Asad Shafiq – steered Pakistan to relative safety at 127-3.At that point in time, things seemed to be going Pakistan’s way.Both Babar and Asad were batting effortlessly and a total of 350 plus looked like a big possibility. But the Pakistanis squandered that opportunity. And it was the in-form Babar, who handed his wicket to the islanders on a platter. Before falling to left-arm spinner Lasith Embuldeniya, Babar had batted with an enviable ease having scored 60 from 95 balls with eight fours and a six. Fresh of his unbeaten 102 in the rain-curtailed Pindi Test, Babar seemed well on course for another ton with a series of flowing strokes.But in the 40th over of the innings Babar threw it all away. He just charged at Embuldeniya but was beaten by turning delivery. He was stranded a long way down the wicket and with Niroshan Dickwella completing an easy stumping. Babar’s wicket triggered Pakistan’s first innings downfall. They lost their last six wickets for just 24 runs.The silver lining for Pakistan, however, was the way their pace trio of Mohammad Abbas, Shaheen Shah Afridi and Naseem Shah responded to the challenge when the Sri Lankans came out to bat.Fully aware that a good Sri Lankan start would tilt the balance in favour of the visitors, the pacers bowled their hearts outs and in the end Sri Lanka were a bit on the back foot at 64-3, trailing Pakistan by 127 runs with seven wickets in hand.Despite losing their top three batters including the in-form skipper Dimuth Karunaratne, Sri Lanka had all reasons to celebrate a forceful outing on the opening day. Pakistan, meanwhile, need to pull up their socks if they are to prevail in this must-win Test.Brief scores: Sri Lanka 64 for 3 (Abbas 2-21) trail Pakistan 191 (Shafiq 63, Babar 60, Kumara 4-49, Embuldeniya 4-71, Vishwa 2-31) by 127 runs.
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