Mathews, Chandimal in solid century stand as Sri Lanka go 89 ahead

Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka 177 for 3 (Karunaratne 77, Madushka 37, Masood 1-29) trail Afghanistan 198 (Rahmat 91, V Fernando 4-51, A Fernando 3-24) by 21 runs

Afghanistan removed Sri Lanka’s top three before lunch, their seamers in particular finding tighter lines and better lengths on the second morning. But the hosts still marched towards a substantial first-innings lead, on a track that seemed settled after the first hour. Sri Lanka now sit 21 runs behind, with seven of their wickets in tact.

Still, the dismissal of Dimuth Karunaratne in particular will buoy Afghanistan. Karunaratne had sped to 77 at easily better than a run a ball when he essentially gave his wicket away, coming down the track to turn a Qais Ahmad ball into a full toss, which he promptly flicked to short midwicket. There was little spin for Qais, who largely bowled flat and fast, in Afghanistan’s attempts to slow the scoring rate.

Karunaratne had looked dangerous before that, his leg-side game humming, and Afghanistan somewhat at a loss as to how to slow his rate of scoring down. He had begun the day on 42 off 37 balls, and resumed scoring briskly, hitting two fours off the first seven balls he faced to bring up a 35th Test fifty. He struck three further boundaries before he was out trying to hit another one.

The other wickets to fall were to seam bowling. Naveed Zadran set a leg slip first ball he bowled to Nishan Madushka on Saturday, and had him glancing a ball off his hip, straight to the fielder. He had added only one to his overnight score.

Kusal Mendis started carefully against disciplined seam bowling from both Zadran and Nijat Masood, making only five off his first 16 deliveries. But eventually he lost his patience. Masood bowled an excellent bouncer, with the trap set in the deep. Mendis took the bait, and top edged one to fine leg, where Zia-ur-Rehman settled under it comfortably.

Mendis was out for 10, and Masood had reward for his tight bowling on the first evening, and in this session. That over would go on to be a wicket-maiden.

Angelo Mathews batted sensibly for 51 balls before the break, scoring 29 and scoring four boundaries, largely off the bad balls. Dinesh Chandimal was with him at lunch, having made 15 off 25.

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