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Pakistan Shows Resilience in Rain-Affected First Day Clash with Sri Lanka

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Nishan Madushka walks back as Shaheen Afridi strikes his trademark pose AFPGetty Images

In a rain-interrupted match in Galle, Sri Lanka managed to reach 242 for 6 against Pakistan on the first day of the test series. Despite the stoppages, both teams engaged in an intriguing tug of war, with Pakistan initially taking the lead thanks to a three-wicket burst from Shaheen Shah Afridi. However, Sri Lanka fought back with a 131-run fifth wicket partnership between Angelo Mathews and Dhananjaya de Silva.

Mathews, who looked in imperious form during his innings of 64 off 109 balls, fell on the stroke of tea, leaving Dhananjaya to continue the fight. He formed another crucial partnership with Sadeera Samarawickrama, who contributed 36 off 57 deliveries. But Pakistan struck a blow just before stumps, as Samarawickrama was caught brilliantly by Imam-ul-Haq at short leg. Sri Lanka finished the day with 242 for 6 on the board.

Although Pakistan may consider it their day due to those late wickets, they would be wise not to underestimate Dhananjaya. The batsman remained unbeaten on 94 off 157 deliveries, showcasing his ability to deliver when Sri Lanka needed him most. He came to the crease with his team struggling at 54 for 4 and played a crucial role in stabilizing the innings.

Pakistan’s success was largely due to Afridi’s excellent bowling performance. He reached a milestone by grabbing his 100th Test wicket when he dismissed Nishan Madushka. Afridi then continued his dominance by dismissing Kusal Mendis and Dimuth Karunaratne. However, Mathews and Dhananjaya weathered the storm and made it through to lunch.

After the break, with the sun shining, the seam movement that troubled the batsmen earlier in the day disappeared. Mathews and Dhananjaya took advantage of the conditions and successfully negated Pakistan’s bowling attack. Spinners Abrar Ahmed and Noman Ali bowled a majority of the middle session, but the lack of turn made it difficult for them to create pressure.

Dhananjaya took on the role of aggressor, hitting boundaries off Noman and scoring four fours and two sixes. Mathews also joined in, scoring nine boundaries before falling just short of his 16th Test century. Sri Lanka faced some struggles, particularly against Abrar’s variations, but occasional loose balls released the pressure.

In the final session, rain once again interrupted play, but Pakistan managed to produce a fascinating seven-over period before the end of the day. Afridi continued to find movement off the pitch, while Abrar troubled Samarawickrama. However, it was Salman who made the crucial breakthrough, dismissing Samarawickrama with a brilliant catch by Imam.

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