Pakistan's young brigade rattles Sri Lanka
GALLE: Teenage fast bowler Mohammad Aamer led Pakistan's spirited new-look attack to bowl out Sri Lanka for 292 on the opening day of the first cricket Test here on Saturday.
Pakistan were 15-2 in reply at stumps with skipper Younus Khan on seven and nightwatchman Abdur Rauf yet to score after openers Salman Butt and Khurram Manzoor had fallen in the first four overs.
Butt was bowled by Nuwan Kulasekera off the second ball of the innings and Manzoor was trapped leg-before by Thilan Thushara to set up a thrilling contest ahead.
Aamer, a 17-year-old left-armer, grabbed three wickets and fellow debutant Rauf picked up two after Younus sent Sri Lanka in to bat on a wicket freshened up by early morning rain.
Younus himself took 2-23 while wicket-keeper Kamran Akmal claimed four catches and a stumping as Sri Lanka slipped to 194-6 before the lower order fought back.
Left-handed opener Tharanga Paranavitana was Sri Lanka's saviour with 72, adding 75 for the third wicket with Mahela Jayawardene (30) and 43 for the fourth with Thilan Samaraweera (31).
Sri Lanka's lone debutant, Angelo Mathews, boosted the tail with a sparkling 42 off 57 balls during a 47-run stand for the seventh wicket with Kulasekera, who made 38.
Paranavitana said Sri Lanka would be happy with their total since it was not an easy wicket to bat on.
"You are never in on this wicket because there was a lot of seam movement, so it was important to stay there and get runs off the loose balls," the left-hander said.
"To get 292 on this wicket is very good, it will put Pakistan under pressure."
The three-match series is the first between the two nations since armed gunmen attacked the Sri Lankan team bus in the Pakistani city of Lahore on March 3 while the squad was en route to resume a Test match.
The attack injured seven Sri Lankan players and eight local security men were killed.
The match began less than a fortnight after Pakistan defeated Sri Lanka in the World Twenty20 final in England on June 21.
Aamer, one of Pakistan's heroes in the triumphant World Twenty20 campaign, justified his Test debut at the expense of seasoned all-rounder Abdur Razzaq.
He struck with the last ball of his first over in Test cricket when he bowled opener Malinda Warnapura for two as the batsman was beaten by pace and chopped the ball on his off-stump.
The hosts slipped to 21-2 as Aamer removed skipper Kumar Sangakkara in his third over, forcing the star batsman to edge a short ball to Shoaib Malik at third slip.
Aamer should have had two more wickets but Malik dropped Paranavitana, then on four, and Akmal let off Jayawardene before the batsman had scored a run.
Aamer said he was delighted to begin his Test career with a good haul and hoped he would continue in the same vein.
"I did well in the World Twenty20, but Test cricket is the real game and I wanted to have a decent start to my Test career," said the bowler, who hero-worships Pakistani great Wasim Akram.
"I got a lot of help and support from Wasim bhai (brother) and others like Aaquib Javed. There has been a lot of support from our captain also and that inspired me to give my best.
"There was a bit of moisture in the wicket in the morning and that's why we decided to field, knowing that two or three early wickets will restrict Sri Lanka.
"It is good to get them under 300, and even though we have lost two wickets, there is enough batting left to see us to a good score."