Mathews and Dhananjaya bring Sri Lanka back after Afridi won the morning session


Tea Sri Lanka 185 for 5 (Dhananjaya 74*, Mathews 64, Afridi 3-56) vs Pakistan

If the first session was Pakistan’s, the second was undoubtedly Sri Lanka’s. Angelo Mathews and Dhananjaya de Silva put on 131 for the fifth wicket after Shaheen Shah Afridi had set them back with a three-wicket burst in the morning to drag their side back into the first Test in Galle. But for Mathews falling on the stroke of tea for 64, it would have been the perfect session for Sri Lanka.

But even with that wicket, Sri Lanka will be pleased to have got to where they have, having begun the session on a precarious 64 for 4. On the way to a 121-run session, the pair of Mathews and Dhananjaya negated whatever Pakistan threw at them, as the early movement that had so assisted the seamers began to dull.

This meant anything fuller was quite easily punished, with Mathews in particular playing a couple of sumptuous straight drives. Babar Azam briefly flirted with a short-ball strategy, but gave up on it within the span of an over after both Mathews and Dhananjaya showed they were unfazed – possibly down to the ball holding up in the surface whenever it was dragged short.

As such, a majority of the session was bowled by spinners Abrar Ahmed and Noman Ali – Agha Salman bowled the first over of the session, failed to extract any turn, and was promptly removed from the attack until he returned for a couple more closer to tea.

However, with it still day one in Galle, there was hardly any turn on offer meaning that it proved quite difficult for either spinner to build any sort of concerted pressure. Both Mathews and Dhananjaya found it easy to rotate strike, while Dhananjaya took it upon himself to take on the role of aggressor. Noman was the unlucky recipient of most of this aggression, being taken for four fours and a pair of sixes – the most memorable an elegant inside-out drive over long-off.

Then, as the session wound to a close, the run rate quickened as Mathews joined in on the act, taking Agha for back-to-back boundaries through midwicket. The final ten overs of the session went for a Bazball-esque 50 runs.

But with just three minutes left until the interval, Mathews sought to cut a length ball outside off and feathered an edge through to the keeper, to the delight of Abrar.

The ease with which the Sri Lanka batters operated post-lunch was a stark contrast from the taxing morning session, where a fiery Afridi spell had seen Sri Lanka’s top order all back in the pavilion with just 54 runs on the board.

On his return to the Test side, Afridi got Nishan Madushka, Kusal Mendis and Dimuth Karunaratne all edging behind in some form or other – the first his 100th Test wicket. Two of those had come after an 85-minute rain delay, following which the Pakistan seamers enjoyed the best of the conditions with some moisture likely still trapped under the surface.

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