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Pakistan dominate Sri Lanka on first day as Test cricket returns

Pakistan today hosted Test cricket for the first time in a decade against a backdrop of soldiers brandishing machine guns, low-flying army helicopters and armed police escorts in goa.

The game is Pakistan’s first Test at home since a terrorist attack on Sri Lanka’s team bus in Lahore in 2009 killed eight people and injured six members of the team, as well as coaches and umpires on the way to the ground before play.  

And it is Sri Lanka who have provided the opposition for this significant and emotional return – for both teams – to Pakistan. 

Test cricket has returned to Pakistan for the first time in over a decade, with the host nation taking on Sri Lanka in Rawalpindi.

No team had toured there since the terror attack in 2009

Pakistan fans welcome back Sri Lanka, whose predecessors were attacked in Lahore

There were heavy security measures in place to prevent a repeat of the horrific incident 

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The terror attack resulted in Pakistan playing their home international games in the United Arab Emirates for a decade. 

Home fans waved banners welcoming the Sri Lankans as they finally sat down to watch their cricketers play. 

Heavy security was on display outside the Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium, with soldiers brandishing machine guns and army helicopters flying low overhead.

Police escorts were provided for the teams travelling to the stadium, while there were also road blocks and security checkpoints.  

Pakistan’s bowlers had the best of the first day against Sri Lanka.

Here Pakistani pacer Naseem Shah (centre) celebrates with his team-mates after taking the wicket of Angelo Mathews

Remarkable 16-year-old pace bowler Naseem stole the show on day one of the Test

Home fans squeeze through a fence to get a view at the Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium

Speaking ahead of the match, Pakistan captain Azhar Ali said: ‘It’s a historic occasion and all the players are excited to be part of this.

‘We thank the Sri Lankan team for coming here.

The last Test was also against them, so their visit will send a strong message to the world that we need to support each other.

‘Cricket is the biggest thing and, if the youngsters can’t see matches here, then it’s a big loss for our cricket and budding players.’ 

The shocking attack in 2009 saw the Sri Lankan team coach, which was travelling to the Gaddafi Stadium before play, come under attack from 12 gunmen.

The militants fired at the bus, wounding six of the Sri Lankan team: captain Mahela Jayawardene , vice-captain Kumar Sangakkara, Thilan Samaraweera, Tharanga Paranavitana, Ajantha Mendis, Chaminda Vaas and Suranga Lakmal.

They also shot at another van travelling behind the coach, which was carrying the match officials. Reserve umpire Ahsan Raza was shot twice and taken to hospital, while the bus driver was killed.

In all, eight people were killed, including six Pakistani policemen.

The death toll could have been worse, however, as the attackers also used a rocket launcher to fire at the coach but missed, while a grenade was thrown but exploded after the coach had passed over it.  

Heavily-armed soldiers were among the security provided for the cricketers and spectators

Road blocks were set up and police commandos escorted vehicles carrying the teams

A Pakistani army helicopter flies low over the ground to provide aerial assistance

Pakistani security forces keep a close eye on the roads from their reinforced positions

Although the security provided an ominous scene in Rawalpindi, thankfully there was no sign of trouble.  

Once play got underway, ‘s bowlers had the better of day one.  

It was 16-year-old quick Naseem Shah who led the way, with Sri Lanka reduced to 202 for five before bad light ended play 48 minutes early. 

Sri Lanka’s openers Dimuth Karunaratne and Oshada Fernando put on 96 for the first wicket, but skipper Karunaratne’s dismissal sparked a spell of Pakistan dominance. 

Karunaratne made 59 before Shaheen Afridi trapped him lbw, then Fernando followed for 40, caught by Haris Sohail off Shah.

And the middle order could not get going as Sri Lanka slipped to 127 for four after Kuhal Mendis made just 10, caught by Mohammad Rizwan off Usman Shinwari, and Dinesh Chandimal was bowled by Mohammad Abbas for two.

Angelo Mathews and Dhananjaya De Silva steadied the ship through a sixth-wicket stand of 62, but Shah dismissed the former for 31, with De Silva 38 not out at the close and Niroshan Dickwella on 11.

Shah finished with figures of two for 51, putting his team in the ascendancy on a day when 22.5 overs were lost.

And rain is forecast at various intervals over the next three days, suggesting it could prove difficult for either side to force a result.

Thilan Samaraweera was one of the six Sri Lankan cricketers injured during the terrorist attacks on the team in March 2009.

Eight people were killed, six of them Pakistani police

A bullet hole can be seen in the Sri Lankan team coach’s windscreen after it was attacked en route to the Gadaffi Stadium before play.

The gunmen also used grenades and fired rockets

Twelve terrorists attacked the bus, and the minivan following it, containing the umpires

The Sri Lankan team were later rescued by helicopter from inside the Gadaffi Stadium

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