Seamers Junaid Khan and Bilawal Bhatti capitalised on Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq's decision to bowl first after winning the toss.
Seamers Junaid Khan and Bilawal Bhatti capitalised on Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq's decision to bowl first after winning the toss, after which openers Khurram Manzoor and Ahmed Shehzad removed a substantial portion from Sri Lanka's modest lead – on day one of the first Test on Tuesday.
The Sri Lankans managed a mere 204 all out, which would have read considerably less, had captain Angelo Mathews not defied with a rearguard near century. Pakistan later moved to 46 for one, reducing the deficit to just 158.
Misbah's choice after triumphing at the flip of the coin was spurred by a Sheikh Zayed Stadium pitch lined with a tinge of green. The promise of lateral movement for Khan and Bhatti was soon brought to fruition, too.
The left- and right-armer complemented each other superbly, as Sri Lanka slumped from 57 without loss to 124 for eight – and finally just four runs more than 200. While Khan welcomed a superb five-for, Bhatti cherished three key breakthroughs on debut.
The islanders again proved that, if the veteran Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara don't succeed, the rest also largely fail. The pair managed a mere 20 runs between them, while the absence of Test cricket retiree Tillakaratne Dilshan was noticeable.
Pakistan's reply was promising, though would have been decidedly stronger – if Manzoor was not run out in the final over. Shehzad, also on debut and unbeaten on 25, will be eager to cash in further come Wednesday.
With the recalled Mohammad Hafeez, former skipper Younis Khan and Misbah awaiting their turn, a fat first-innings lead is likely. Spinners Saeed Ajmal, then, will be determined to exploit a surface that is likely to deteriorate.
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