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Pakistan dominate SLC President XI but tour match ends in a draw

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HAMBANTOTA: The two-day tour match between Pakistan and Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) President XI ended as a draw despite a dominant all-round show from the touring side.

At the closure of play on Day 2, SLC President XI were 88/4 and were still trailing by 58 runs.

Salman Ali Agha led Pakistan’s bowling attack in the second innings with two wickets, followed by one each from Shaheen Shah Afridi and Naseem Shah.

Earlier on the second and final day of the tour match, Pakistan gathered a 146-run lead over the inexperienced SLC President XI courtesy of brilliant half-centuries by skipper Babar Azam, Shan Masood and Saud Shakeel.

The touring side, resuming at an overnight score of 160/3, continued to pile on SLC President XI misery as Babar Azam and Saud Shakeel partnered strongly.

The pair batted sensibly and added 126 runs to the total and powered Pakistan to 286/3 at Lunch as both scored half-centuries.

Babar scored an unbeaten 79, laced with seven boundaries and a six while Saud scored 61 not out with the help of six boundaries.

The duo then retired out to pave the way for the rest of their batters to prepare well for the upcoming two-match Test series against Sri Lanka.

Pakistan’s middle order responded well to the opportunity and added another 54 runs to the team’s total before skipper Babar Azam called for declaration.

Meanwhile, Pakistan’s star with the bat on the opening day, Shan Masood, remained the top-scorer for the touring side with a brisk 83 off 67 deliveries, hitting nine boundaries and three sixes.

Put into bat first, the SLC President XI struggled against the ruthless Pakistan bowling attack and could only pile a modest 196 runs on the scoreboard.

Opening batter Oshada Fernando waged a lone battle for Sri Lanka with a gutsy century and played a marathon fighting knock.

The right-handed batter smashed 14 boundaries on his way to a 128-ball 109 before young pacer Aamer Jamal got rid of him.

Besides Fernando, no other SLC President XI batter could make a notable contribution. Kamindu Mendis (22) was the second top-scorer for the side while six of their batters failed to make it into the double figures.

Pacers Shaheen Shah Afridi and Hasan Ali led the bowling attack for Pakistan with three wickets each while Aamer Jamal and Abrar Ahmed bagged two each.

The two-day tour match will serve as an opportunity for Pakistan to get used to the Sri Lankan conditions and is currently underway at the Mahinda Rajapaksa International Cricket Stadium.

Following the conclusion of the tour match, Pakistan will take on Sri Lanka in a two-match Test series, their first assignment in the newly-started World Test Championship (WTC) 2023-25 cycle.

The first Test of the series will take place from July 16 to 20 at Galle International Cricket Stadium while the second Test will be held from July 24 to 28 in Colombo.

Pakistan squad: Babar Azam (c), Mohammad Rizwan, Aamir Jamal, Abdullah Shafique, Abrar Ahmed, Hasan Ali, Imam-ul-Haq, Mohammad Huraira, Mohammad Nawaz, Naseem Shah, Noman Ali, Salman Ali Agha, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Saud Shakeel, Shaheen Afridi and Shan Masood.

SLC President XI Squad: Niroshan Dickwella (WK), Oshada Fernando, Sandun Weerakkody, Kamindu Mendis – Captain, Ahan Wickremasinghe, Nipun Dhananjaya, Nuwanidu Fernando, Lakshitha Marnasinghe, Praveen Jayawickrama, Shashika Dulshan, Kavishka Anjula, Milan Ratnayake, Asanka Manoj, Mohammed Shiraz.

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