Sri Lanka dominate opening day
Mahela Jayawardene and Thilan Samaraweera ended a day of much toil and little success for Pakistan with centuries as Sri Lanka assumed command on the first day of the first Test in Karachi.
Jayawardene's unbeaten 136 and Samaraweera's 130 not out crowned impressive performances from Sri Lanka's top order, who stockpiled runs with some ease against an out-of-sorts Pakistan attack.
Opener Malinda Warnapura kick-started the innings with a breezy 59 off only 48 deliveries, Kumar Sangakkara consolidated with a compact 70, while Jayawardene and Samaraweera shared an unbroken stand of 229 for the fourth wicket as the visitors closed the day on 406 for three.
Jayawardene, who will step down as captain at the end of this series, began his innings with some trepidation.
He was dropped on 17 by Umar Gul, the fast bowler failing to latch on to a difficult return catch, and enjoyed another reprieve on 43 when Misbah-ul-Haq put down a far more straightforward chance at first slip.
Those strokes seemed symbolic of a batsman struggling for form, but in hindsight they proved to be mere aberrations as Jayawardene eased to his 25th Test century.
He was put down again on 123 by Shoaib Malik, missed opportunities which were characteristic of Pakistan's poor showing in the field.
Samaraweera proved an able foil right through Jayawardene's innings, handling the fast bowlers and the spinners with equal comfort.
Samaraweera immediately got into his stride and reached his half-century off only 59 deliveries before dropping a gear.
His alliance with Jayawardene completed a remarkable turnaround to a game Sri Lanka started poorly.
Pakistan began their first Test in 14 months with an immediate success when Gul had debutant opener Tharanga Paranavitana taken at second slip by Misbah off only the fourth ball of the day.
Sangakkara and Warnapura, left-handers both, then shared a 90-run stand for the second wicket.
Warnapura started briskly and quickly slipped into top gear by clubbing Sohail Khan for 13 runs in his second over.
The 26-year-old left-hander steamed towards his sixth Test half-century, for the bulk of the time scoring at a strike-rate well in excess of the 125 mark.
However, much against the run of play, seamer Yasir Arafat broke the partnership by dislodging Warnapura.
Arafat drew the left-hander forward in defence and caught the edge, which flew straight to Misbah at second slip.
Sangakkara appeared a touch shaky early on - he survived a run-out chance and miscued a pull wide of mid-off - but looked more composed as the innings progressed.
Overall, however, he looked in impressive touch, driving with authority and scoring fluently.
Sangakkara and Jayawardene added 84 for the third wicket and looked set to collect plenty more when Sangakkara fell, stepping out to hit leg-spinner Danish Kaneria over the top but failing to clear Misbah at midwicket.
Jayawardene and Samaraweera then looked to consolidate, and, though Sri Lanka's run-rate - more than five an over when Sangakkara was at the crease - slipped somewhat, Sri Lanka's grip on the game grew ever tighter.