Pak vs SL, 1st Test Day1, Abu Dhabi - Live Score,Streaming free
n a dead Sheikh Zayed Stadium pitch that brought back memories of Pakistan's drawn series against South Africa last year, Sri Lanka crawled at under two runs an over in a dull first session of the three-match Test series before Saeed Ajmal got Lahiru Thirimanne on the stroke of lunch.
Flat would be an understatement for the way the surface played given that it was the first morning of a Test. Though the three Pakistan fast bowlers Umar Gul, Aizaz Cheema and Junaid Khan - surprisingly chosen ahead of the quicker and more experienced Wahab Riaz - ran in with heart, they were rendered ineffective by the lack of bite, and life, in the pitch.
A point of interest in the session was the glimpse it provided into the future of Sri Lanka's Test opening batting with Tillakaratne Dilshan dropping back to No. 5. Apart from the odd swing-and-miss, Thirimanne's and Tharanga Paranavitana's approach bordered on the extreme of being over-cautious. Twenty-six runs came in the first hour, in 14 overs. Though the intent not to gift away their wickets was right, overcast Headingley the Sheikh Zayed certainly was not.
The first aggressive shot came in the sixth over when Thirimanne came forward to drive between cover and point and even that fetched only two runs. The first boundary came in the 14th over from Paranavitana off the part-time offspin of Mohammad Hafeez, who, in a sign of things to come, came on to bowl as early as the eighth over.
As it happens in such conditions, the near-chances seemed to hurt the bowlers more. Umar Gul had Lahiru Thirimanne in trouble on at least three occasions but the opener survived what would have been a close leg-before shout through an inside edge second ball of the match. In the seventh over, Gul had an outside edge fall short of third slip before drawing a tentative inside edge that somehow eluded the stumps.
Despite his counterpart Tillakaratne Dilshan saying that he would have batted first, Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq decided to let his three fast bowlers have a go at Sri Lanka. On an already searing Abu Dhabi day, Misbah thought that any chance of taking a few wickets lay in utilising the scant and quickly-drying moisture in the pitch which had a deceptively-greenish tinge. It was always going to be a gamble, but probably the possibility that his adventurous batsmen could have imploded even on the flat wicket played on his mind.
Given the way the Sri Lanka openers were untroubled by the bowling before Thirimanne guided Ajmal straight to slip, Misbah might well have done his batsmen a disservice. Unless his fast bowlers can get the old ball to do what the new ball did not.