De Silva’s unbeaten 94 guides Sri Lanka’s fightback in Galle Test against Pakistan
Dhananjaya de Silva played a magnificent unbeaten innings of 94, leading Sri Lanka’s recovery after an early collapse on the rain-affected first day of the Test match against Pakistan. At stumps, Sri Lanka reached a respectable score of 242 for 6.
The Sri Lankan team found themselves in trouble early on, losing four wickets for just 54 runs in the opening session. Pakistan’s pace sensation, Shaheen Shah Afridi, wreaked havoc on his Test return, claiming three wickets. “On a deck like this, I haven’t seen many bowlers bowl the way Shaheen did,” praised Angelo Mathews, former Sri Lankan captain. “He was brilliant today.”
Mathews also acknowledged the challenging conditions, stating, “the wicket was nippy, that enabled the bowlers to seam and swing the ball, high-quality bowlers landing the seam on the wicket.”
However, de Silva and Mathews came to the rescue with a crucial fifth-wicket partnership of 131 runs, stabilizing the innings. De Silva’s resilience was on full display as he stood firm in the extended final session, even after losing his partner Sadeera Samarawickrama, who contributed 36 runs in a 57-run stand. Samarawickrama fell victim to Agha Salman’s spin, forcing play to be called off for the day due to two rain interruptions, resulting in the loss of 24.2 overs.
De Silva showcased his elegant stroke play with well-executed cuts, drives, and pulls, accumulating 10 fours and three sixes. He reached his half-century with a splendid six. However, as the day drew to a close, de Silva slowed down in his pursuit of a century, mindful of the opportunity to achieve his 10th Test hundred in his 50th match.
Mathews, playing his 105th Test, reached a milestone of his own, notching up his 39th half-century in the five-day format. The pair appeared settled and began to take charge against the bowlers, but leg-spinner Abrar Ahmed managed to dismiss Mathews just before tea, caught behind the stumps.
The Sri Lankan team faced a precarious situation at lunch, which was delayed by an hour due to the first rain delay of nearly 90 minutes. In his second over, Shaheen, playing his 26th Test, completed his century of Test wickets since returning from injury. He sent Nishan Madushka back to the pavilion, caught behind for just four runs. Rain interrupted the game once again, but upon resumption, Shaheen struck again, removing Kusal Mendis for 12.
Skipper Dimuth Karunaratne fought back with a few boundaries, but Shaheen claimed his third victim of the day as Karunaratne was caught behind on 29, attempting a glance down the leg side. Fast bowler Naseem Shah then joined the party, dismissing Dinesh Chandimal for a solitary run, with skipper Babar Azam completing a tough catch at third slip.
“Pakistan head coach Grant Bradburn expressed his satisfaction with the team’s performance, stating, “Shaheen Afridi and Naseem had to put on a very special effort today on what was a batting-friendly wicket. They simply responded very well today.” He added, “Very pleased with where we are in the match at the moment. Nicely poised for tomorrow morning, the new ball is not far away.”
The game is finely balanced, with both teams eagerly anticipating the second day’s play, which promises to be an exciting continuation of the captivating battle between bat and ball.