Sri Lanka make steady start as Test cricket returns to Pakistan

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Sri Lanka were 89-0 at lunch on Wednesday as Pakistan hosted its first Test since a deadly 2009 attack scared off foreign teams.

Skipper Dimuth Karunaratne was unbeaten on 57 and Oshada Fernando was on 26 after Sri Lanka won the toss on a greenish Rawalpindi stadium pitch.

The match is a momentous occasion for Pakistan, and there was applause as Pakistan captain Azhar Ali tossed the coin in the air to open proceedings.

Sri Lanka have embarked on the first Test tour of Pakistan since the gun-and-rocket attack in March 2009 killed eight people and wounded visiting players and officials, plunging Pakistan into sporting isolation.

With foreign teams refusing to tour, Pakistan have since played their ‘home’ fixtures in the United Arab Emirates, meaning all of their current team are now playing their first Test on home soil.

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However, as security has improved, Pakistan has gradually revived international cricket with limited-overs matches against Zimbabwe, World XI, the West Indies and Sri Lanka over the last four years.

Pakistan, who surprisingly left out their key spinner Yasir Shah and opted for a four-man pace attack, struggled for a breakthrough.

Sixteen-year-old Naseem Shah was the stand-out bowler as he generated pace, hitting Karunaratne on the helmet in the 19th over.

Sri Lankan skipper, then on 42, fell down but showed no signs of discomfort, hitting Shaheen Shah Afridi for his eighth boundary to reach 24th Test fifty.

Pakistan have handed Test debuts to opener Abid Ali and pacer Usman Shinwari while Sri Lanka included three pacers and Dilruwan Perera as lone spinner..


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