De Silva leads Sri Lanka’s fight against Pakistan in Galle Test

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Dhananjaya de Silva hit an unbeaten 94 as Sri Lanka recovered from an early collapse to reach 242-6 at stumps on a rain-hit day one of the first Test against Pakistan in the city of Galle on Sunday.

The fifth-wicket pair of de Silva and Angelo Mathews (64) put on 131 after Sri Lanka had slipped to 54-4 in the opening session, with Shaheen Shah Afridi taking three wickets on his Test return.

De Silva stood firm in an extended final session in Galle despite losing his partner Sadeera Samarawickrama, who made 36, after a 57-run stand.

Wicketkeeper-batsman Samarawickrama fell to Agha Salman’s spin and play, which had witnessed two rain interruptions at a cost of 24.2 overs lost, was called off for the day.

De Silva batted elegantly with deft cuts, drives and pulls, and amassed 10 fours and three sixes — one of them to reach his fifty.

But he slowed down in the final hour of play as he awaits his 10th Test century in his 50th match.

Mathews, playing his 105th Test, raised his 39th half-century in the five-day format.

The pair seemed comfortable and de Silva started to take on the bowlers with boundaries, but leg-spinner Abrar Ahmed got former captain Mathews caught behind at the stroke of tea.

Sri Lanka had looked in trouble at lunch, which was put back by an hour after officials adjusted the session timings to make up for a first rain delay of nearly 90 minutes.

Afridi, a left-arm quick playing his 26th Test, moved from 99 to a century of wickets on his return from injury when he sent back Nishan Madushka caught behind for four in his second over.

The 23-year-old had injured his knee at the same venue a year ago.

Rain soon arrived in Galle to interrupt proceedings but Afridi took another wicket when action resumed as he got Kusal Mendis out for 12.

Skipper Dimuth Karunaratne hit back with a few boundaries before Afridi got him out for 29, caught behind attempting a glance down the leg side.

Fast bowler Naseem Shah soon joined in to get Dinesh Chandimal out for one with a quick delivery as skipper Babar Azam pulled off a tough catch at third slip.

‘One of many milestones’
Former men’s captain Wasim Akram congratulated Afridi on achieving his 100th Test wicket and termed it “one of the many milestones to come”.

In a video released by the Pakistan Cricket Board earlier today, Afridi had recalled the match when he took his 99th wicket and hoped to clinch his 100th soon, lamenting that he got injured before he could do so.

“So, I have waited for too long,” he said, adding that it was “too difficult to be away from cricket”.