Pakistan 191 for 7 (Salman 62, Ramesh Mendis 3-42) trail Sri Lanka 378 (Chandimal 80, Dickwella 51, O Fernando 50, Naseem 3-58, Yasir 3-83, Nawaz 2-80) by 187 runs
Sri Lanka made huge strides towards taking control of the Test on the second day, despite having lost their last four wickets for 63 runs in the morning.
Asitha Fernando made the crucial breakthrough, removing form batter Abullah Shafique with the second ball of the innings, before the spinners went to work. Prabath Jayasuriya had Babar Azam playing on. Dhananjaya de Silva slipped a full delivery through Imam-ul-Haq’s defences. Mohammad Rizwan, Fawad Alam, and Mohammad Nawaz were out to Ramesh Mendis’ offspin.
Things had begun so well for Pakistan. Naseem Shah blew Sri Lanka’s overnight pair away in the first half-hour of play. He first fired a vicious one at debutant Dunith Wellalage’s throat in the fourth over of the day, which the batter could only fend to second slip, as he tried to get out of the way. In Naseem’s next over, another bouncer accounted for Niroshan Dickwella, who tried to help the ball around the corner, and only managed to give an edge. Dickwella had got to his half-century shortly before, having begun the day on 42.
Yasir Shah then took the last two wickets as Ramesh Mendis prevented an all-out lower-order folding, with his 35, during which he struck up a 20-run partnership with No. 10 Prabath Jayasuriya, and a 25-run last-wicket stand with Asitha. Still, 378 did not seem like a total that locked Pakistan out of the game.
The Pakistan top order though, did not take advantage of the situation. Second ball of the innings, their form batter Shafique played a leaden-footed push at Asitha, whose length delivery took the inside edge and cannoned into middle and leg stump.
Babar Azam was out next, also chopping on, pushing at a full Prabath Jayasuriya delivery that did not turn as much as expected, to be out for 16. Imam was also bowled, but this time the bat did not interfere. De Silva beat him in the air, and slipped the ball into middle.
From there, it wasn’t quite a procession, but the wickets fell regularly. Mohammad Rizwan was lbw playing back to a quicker one from Ramesh. It looked plumb from the outset, but Rizwan burned one of his team’s reviews. Fawad Alam battled to 24 before he too played back to a sliding Ramesh delivery, that hit him in front. Fawad didn’t review.
Mohammad Nawaz was out a little more than 10 overs later, when he edged Ramesh behind. But Pakistan’s best batter of the day was also out before the day’s end. Salman ground his way through the innings, not hitting a boundary in his first 67 balls. When he did hit out, he advanced to pound Jayasuriya over long on, before sweeping him for four behind deep square leg.
Salman was more adventurous after that, particularly when he used his feet. He got to his maiden fifty off 93 balls, and was out off the last delivery of the day for 62, edging Jayasuriya to slip.
Of Sri Lanka’s bowlers, Ramesh returned the best figures, taking 3 for 42. Pakistan had two bowlers on three wickets in their innings too – Yasir taking 3 for 80, and Naseem 3 for 58.
It didn’t seem like a bowlers’ pitch on day two at Galle. And yet, 11 wickets fell.
Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo’s Sri Lanka correspondent. @afidelf