Recent Match Report – Sri Lanka vs Pakistan 2nd Test 2023

Lunch Sri Lanka 79 for 4 (Dhananjaya 33*, Chandimal 9*) vs Pakistan

For the third time in the series, Sri Lanka have lost their top order cheaply, and Dhananjaya de Silva has had to perform his rescue act. Sri Lanka were left floundering on 79 for 4 at lunch on the opening day of the second Test at SSC.

Dhananjaya, unbeaten on 33, has Dinesh Chandimal, on 9, for company.

After a wet outfield courtesy overnight rain had delayed the start of play by 30 minutes, Karunaratne had been confident in his decision to bat first. While there was some moisture expected to be in the surface early on, that had been anticipated to dry up soon – and so it has – to make it easier for the batters, though only Dhananjaya has seen fit to follow script thus far.

Naseem Shah was the pick of the bowlers in the morning session, grabbing the key scalps of Dimuth Karunaratne and Angelo Mathews, while Shaheen Shah Afridi accounted for Kusal Mendis.

Dhananjaya de Silva plays the pull•AFP/Getty Images

The mini collapse was catalysed courtesy another spectacular bit of fielding from the visitors, as Shan Masood effected a one-hand pick-up-and-release from short extra cover to throw down the stumps and find Nishan Madushka well short.

The attempted single itself was indicative of the muddled thinking behind Sri Lanka’s process, as Karunaratne ushered his partner for a push-and-run single that was never on. Why such a tight run was being attempted in the third over of the first innings, on what for all purposes looked a pretty good batting surface, is anyone’s guess.

If that wicket was borne out of part Sri Lankan brain fade and part Pakistani excellence, the next one was wholesale the former, with Mendis slashing one that was full and wide straight to point.

Pakistan up to that point had been prone to the odd loose delivery, but Naseem produced a searing spell and Mathews in particular was finding proceedings uncomfortable. Eventually, having poked and prodded at several deliveries in the channel outside off from Naseem, he nicked one through. Naseem then got one to just seam in a fraction to catch the inside edge of Karunaratne’s bat, as the Sri Lanka captain looked to drive one on the up.

At 36 for 4 this was Sri Lanka’s worst start this series – a considerable feat seeing as their previous two innings had seen them at 99 for 4 and 58 for 4. But if the other Sri Lankan batters were making mountains out of molehills, Dhananjaya was building highways; in their 43-run stand, Dhananjaya accounted for 33 off just 40 deliveries, while Chandimal’s 9 came off 36.

At times it did indeed seem like Dhananjaya was batting on an altogether different surface, frequently skipping down the track and lofting the spinners down the ground or over the covers. Even as lunch approached, and his rate of scoring slowed, the bad balls were put away. But with conditions quite comfortable for batting, Sri Lanka can scarcely afford any more slip-ups.

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