Two wickets immediately after tea brought Pakistan back on level terms after a century stand between Kaushal Silva and Kumar Sangakkara had steered Sri Lanka into a position of strength. Silva batted through till stumps to end the day unbeaten on 80, and he and Angelo Mathews will begin day three looking to extend Sri Lanka’s score as far as they can on a pitch that is already showing lavish signs of turn and uneven bounce.
Pakistan created enough chances through the day to justify Misbah-ul-Haq’s decision to bat first – a “situational” one, he said at the toss, to try and make up for the first-day washout – but only had three wickets to show for it. Wahab Riaz had a wicket chalked off for overstepping when he had Dimuth Karunaratne caught at slip in his first over of the morning, and soon after had Silva put down by Yasir Shah at backward point. Azhar Ali dropped Sangakkara off Yasir during the middle session, a difficult chance straight off the face of the bat.
Soon after tea, when Sangakkara had tucked Yasir into the leg side to join Silva on a half-century, Pakistan must have wondered when their next chance would come. Their spinners were getting help off the pitch, but it was slow turn for the most part and the batsmen were looking comfortably ensconced.
It was Wahab who broke the partnership, with a quite stunning piece of bowling. He had attacked Sangakkara with the short ball – and struck him once on the front shoulder – during a brief skirmish before lunch, but had only sent down four overs in the middle session.Now in the third over of his post-tea session, he produced one that just straightened from back of a length to beat Sangakkara’s defensive prod. It was an excellent delivery, and he bettered it next ball, getting it to deviate in a similar manner from a fuller length and finding the edge through to slip as Sangakkara aimed a drive at it, on the up.
It was Wahab who had taken the first wicket as well, off a short ball that hurried through to find the inside edge of Dimuth Karunaratne’s attempted pull. Between the dismissals of Karunaratne and Sangakkara, the second-wicket pair batted for 37 overs.
Pakistan only had to wait six overs for their next wicket, and it was a soft one: Lahiru Thirimanne, waltzing down the pitch to Mohammad Hafeez, popping one tamely to mid-on. It wasn’t a wicket earned, technically, but it was reward enough for Pakistan’s tight bowling right through the day.