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Friday Dec 13 2019
By
AFP
,
Reuters

Rain forces suspension of play in historic Pakistan Test

By
AFP
,
Reuters
Ground staff remove rain water from the pitch during the third day of the first Test cricket match between Pakistan and Sri Lanka at the Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium in Rawalpindi on December 13, 2019. Photo: AFP 

RAWALPINDI: Pakistan's first home Test in a decade was affected by bad weather Friday, with rain and an already sodden pitch forcing officials to suspend play on the third day of the contest against Sri Lanka.

After day three's first session was washed out by wet weather, only 27 minutes of play was possible before the players walked off with just 5.2 overs bowled.

The umpires called off play at 15:35pm local time, after only 91 overs of play in three days.

Sri Lanka progressed to 282-6 from an overnight total of 263-6, with Dhananjaya de Silva on 87 — 13 short of his fourth Test hundred.

Dilruwan Perera was unbeaten on six as stop-start play left the players and some 2,000 fans, mostly schoolkids, frustrated.

On Thursday, rain and poor light kept the teams off the field for all but 83 minutes.

For Pakistan, 16-year-old paceman Naseem Shah (2-83) and Shaheen Shah Afridi (2-58) were the most successful bowlers.

The conditions have put a dampener on the long-awaited return to Test cricket in Pakistan, following the 2009 militant attack on Sri Lanka´s team bus that left eight people dead and several players and officials wounded.

But despite the poor weather, schoolchildren were thrilled when Pakistan players went to the fence to take selfies with them.

"I am over the moon as I had a selfie with (batsman) Babar Azam and my wish has come true," said Amna Ansari, a school student from Islamabad.

Hamad Ali, from Rawalpindi thanked the Sri Lankan team for touring Pakistan.

"It needed a big heart to come to a country where their team was attacked," Ali said.

"We must thank Sri Lanka and hope more teams will come to our country."

Gradual improvement in security allowed Pakistan to host limited over series between 2015-19 but foreign teams refused to play five-day games.

The second Test starts in Karachi from December 19.

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