Sri Lanka bowlers lead the way on Day 2 against Pakistan

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GALLE, Sri Lanka (AP) — Sri Lanka took hold of the second test against Pakistan after its bowlers came good Monday on the second day at the Galle International Stadium.

After being criticized for being unable to defend 342 runs in the first test, the Sri Lankan spinners tightened their lines and bowled to good lengths to help the hosts to an 187-run lead in their bid to even the three-match series.

Off-spinner Ramesh Mendis ran through Pakistan’s middle order to finish 3-42.

“We have played four back-to-back games here and all four wickets were different to each other," Sri Lanka wicketkeeper Niroshan Dickwella said. "I would say this is the best wicket to bat. It’s still a good pitch to play. Why we were able to get seven wickets today was because we bowled really well.”

Agha Salman, who debuted in the opening match, was the brightest of the Pakistani batters with his first half-century. He made 62 before being dismissed on the final ball of the day when he edged to Dhananjaya de Silva at first slip off the bowling of Prabath Jayasuriya.

“It’s been my dream to play for Pakistan in test match cricket,” Salman said "Glad that I was able to score a half-century in my second game. Disappointed that I couldn’t see through today.

“A nice partnership was building and our plan was to see off the day and start fresh tomorrow. But that’s cricket. It’s a still good wicket to bat and we have plenty of batters who are capable of getting us closer to Sri Lanka’s total.”

Sri Lanka right-arm quick Asitha Fernando, who had been sidelined after testing positive for COVID-19, had a good comeback as he dismissed Abdullah Shafique with the second ball of the innings. Shafique poked at a delivery he could have left alone and ended up getting a thick inside edge onto his stumps.

Jayasuriya claimed the big wicket of Babar Azam (16) when the Pakistan captain was bowled off an inside edge while de Silva dismissed Imam-ul-Haq (32).

Mendis then claimed three quick wickets. He had Mohammad Rizwan and Fawad Allam leg before wicket for identical scores of 24 before Mohammed Nawaz (12) was caught behind.

Sri Lanka posted 378 in its first innings after resuming on the overnight score of 315-6.

Fast bowler Naseem Shah accounted for both overnight batters — Dunith Wellalage (11) and Dickwella (51) — while Mendis was the last man dismissed for 35.

Naseem Shah and Yasir Shah finished with three wickets apiece.

De Silva is stand-in captain for Sri Lanka after Dimuth Karunaratne withdrew because of back spasms. Sri Lanka team manager Mahinda Halangoda said he is doubtful for the remainder of the game.

The second test was shifted from Colombo to Galle because of the political unrest in the country.

There have been several protests in the capital Colombo, forcing the government to impose Emergency Law. Earlier this month, Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa had to flee the country and resigned after an uprising following the economic crisis.

There’s a severe shortage of essential items such as cooking gas, fuel and medicine in the country.

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