First Test Match


Test debut: R. P. Arnold.

Sri Lanka led by 158 with seven wickets standing at the start of the final day. But they had little chance of bowling out Pakistan, as their lead spinner, Muralitharan, and medium-pacer Zoysa were both injured. Instead, De Silva batted on, converting his first fifty in 16 Test innings into his ninth Test hundred; by the time he was caught at cover off Mushtaq Ahmed, he had scored 168, striking 14 fours and a six, and there were also half-centuries for Tillekeratne and Jayasuriya. Pakistan had held the advantage when De Silva and Ranatunga combined at 53 for two, just five ahead. They made the match safe, surviving a couple of confident shouts for leg-before as they added 129 on the fourth afternoon.

Ranatunga had decided to bat on winning the toss. Debutant Russel Arnold replaced Mahanama, who had damaged his toe, as Jayasuriya's opening partner and they put on 61 before Mushtaq bowled them both; he also had De Silva stumped, while his fellow-spinner Saqlain Mushtaq accounted for Atapattu. The pitch was at its liveliest that morning but, as it dried out, Sri Lanka eased away from 90 for four. They lost only one more batsman that day, Ranatunga. Tillekeratne was batting serenely and reached his second Test century against Pakistan next day. But the last five wickets fell for 62, mostly to Saqlain, who took five in a Test innings for the first time and was to add four more at the second attempt; he finally had Tillekeratne caught at slip after nearly six hours.

Salim Elahi was lbw offering no stroke to the first ball of Pakistan's reply, but Ijaz Ahmed shared century stands for the next two wickets with acting-captain Ramiz Raja and Salim Malik. Ijaz resumed on the third morning on 90, but almost missed his hundred. He and Malik set off for a single, then both ended up at the non-striker's end as Ranatunga and the keeper effected the run-out. Initially, umpire Shepherd declared Ijaz out. But, after further consultation with TV umpire K. T. Francis, he despatched Malik instead; Ijaz was recalled from the dressing-room and promptly completed his century. Not long after, he was one of three victims claimed by Muralitharan for one run, and Pakistan were 248 for six. The last four wickets, however, added 130, thanks to the stubborn Saqlain, who batted 255 minutes and was last out for 58. Muralitharan had bowled 53 overs of off-spin for a career-best six for 98. But a torn side muscle and a bad finger kept him out of the rest of the series. Sri Lanka had to bat out the remaining two days, but in the end they did so in comfort.

Man of the Match: Saqlain Mushtaq.

Close of play: First day, Sri Lanka 254-5 (H. P. Tillekeratne 65*, R. S. Kaluwitharana 48*); Second day, Pakistan 200-2 (Ijaz Ahmed 90*, Salim Malik 47*); Third day, Pakistan 370-9 (Saqlain Mushtaq 51*, Mohammed Zahid 5*); Fourth day, Sri Lanka 206-3 (P. A. De Silva 79*, H. P. Tillekeratne 20*).

© John Wisden & Co