RAWALPINDI        -            Sri Lanka finished the day one of the first historic Test at 202 for the loss of 5 wickets here at the Pindi Cricket Stadium on Wednesday.

The first day was reduced to only 68.1 overs due to bad light and overcast conditions, which benefit the Lankan team, who were struggling to cope with the pace of especially youngster Naseem Shah, who remained the most successful Pakistani bowler by claiming 2 wickets for 51 runs in 16 overs, while Muhammad Abbas, Shaheen Shah and debutant Usman Shinwari got one wicket apiece.

Earlier, Test debuts were handed over to opening batsman Abid Ali and pacer Usman Khan Shinwari. Sri Lankan skipper Dimuth Karunaratne won the toss on a bright sunny day and opted to bat first without thinking for a while. His decision paid dividend, as Sri Lankan openers Dimuth Karunaratne and Fernando played cautiously and survived early onslaught of Pakistani pace attack. Once again chief selector, head coach and batting consultant Misbah-ul-Haq opted to enter the Test with highly cautious approach and to the much surprise and disappointment of the crowd, Misbah opted to go with same coward approach and included six specialist batsmen.

The most shocking thing to witness was the exclusion of leg spin magician Yasir Shah and the runs-scoring machine in domestic cricket Fawad Alam, who was baldy overlooked by Mr perfect Misbah and instead he trusted in super flop Haris Sohail. The PCB should finally wake up from deep slump and seek explanation from Misbah, who has baldy failed so far to justify even one single role out of three.

For the first time, the PCB set a great example by inviting former greats Majid Khan, Javed Miandad and former Sri Lankan captain Bandula Warnapura. Both were presented with shields by PCB Chairman Ehsan Mani prior to start of the first day’s play. Miandad was moving from one side of the ground to another wearing Pakistan army cap and he waved at the crowd and acknowledged their warm response. It was around 6 to 8 thousand crowd present at the stadium. In the initial part, the crowd was very thin, but as the match progressed, it started increasing. The security reasons and too much walk from the venue were major reasons behind the less crowd in the stadium while the PCB officials were also kept on sitting on the complementary passes.

Both Dimuth Karunaratne and Fernando batted superbly and took the score to 96, before Karunaratne was the first to go after scoring 59. He was trapped LBW by left-arm pacer Shaheen Shah Afridi and soon Fernando also followed him as he was removed by pace sensation Naseem Shah. Haris Sohail took a good catch. Sri Lanka faced a mini-collapse, as Kusal Mendis and Dinesh Chandimal also fell quickly, as the hosts were struggling at 127-4.

Just when Pakistan was hoping to make further inroads, man of crisis Angelo Mathews and DM de Silva established a 62-run fifth-wicket partnership. Both Mathews and Silva fully frustrated Pakistani bowlers. Misbah’s blunder of not including a specialist spinner was badly exposed. Azhar Ali, as usual, was looking out of sorts and out of options, as he used part-timer Haris Sohail, who couldn’t provide any breakthrough while Mathews and Silva let the scoreboard ticking.

When the things were looking highly grim for Pakistan, Naseem Shah did wonders for the country as he removed dangerous man Mathews, when Asad Shafiq took the routine catch. Pakistan could have benefited a lot form Mathews departure, as Sri Lankan tail was not experienced but both Silva and wicketkeeper batsman Dickwella held their nerves and took the score from 189-5 to 202-5 in 68.1 overs, when bad light forced the umpires to call stumps.