In ICC World Test Championship Series: Five Takeaways From Pakistan Vs Sri Lank
Dimuth Karunaratne-led Sri Lanka leveled the series in the second game, beating Pakistan by a whopping 246 runs. The Green Army fell like dominoes after Azam departed at 81. In pursuit of the 508-run target, Pakistan managed to get 261 only.
They were brimming with confidence after beating the hosts by 4 wickets, thanks to newcomer Abdullah Shafique’s unbeaten knock of 160*. However, they did not make the most of their high spirits and allowed the Sri Lankan spinners to overwhelm the batting line-up.
5. Sri Lankan Player Prabath Jayasuriya Wreaks Havoc
Prabath Jayasuriya, 30, made hay off the spinning wicket at Galle and downed Pakistan’s batting.
The left-arm orthodox has clinched a total of 29 wickets in only three Tests, two against the Men in Green and one against Australia. He dismissed Azam in three of four innings to bring his side back into the contest.
In Jayasuriya, Sri Lanka has found a gem that they have been missing since Rangana Herath’s departure from the international circuit.
During the post-game presentation, he recalled the obstacles he had overcome to get to the ICC World Test Championship side.
4. Pakistan Player Abdullah Shafique Can Bat
Shafique single-handedly won Pakistan their first game of the series, proving to the critics that former captain and coach, Misbah-ul-Haque was right about jumping the stages and bursting into the national side this soon.
The 22-year-old scored his first 150+ score to take Pakistan home in their pursuit of 342. He proved that he can be depended on in case Azam failed.
The Lahore Qalandars star failed to replicate his antics in the next red-ball contest, but he has cemented his opening spot in the team for some time regardless.
Dubbed as Pakistan’s upcoming Rahul Dravid, the Men in Green seem to have found a reliable opener in the longest format of the game.
3. Pakistan’s Reliance On Azam
Babar Azam was the lone warrior for Pakistan in most sessions of both games. While Shafique helped him increase Pakistan’s chances, no other batter could extend their stay on the pitch to support the skipper.
The captain can only do so much if wickets keep tumbling from the other end. The visitors may have succumbed very early to the Lankan bowlers in the first innings of the first game had Naseem Shah not stuck around for long.
His confident blockings allowed Azam to reach his ton and get Pakistan to a comfortable spot.
Neither Mohammad Rizwan nor Imam Haque lived up to the hype. They batted well, but not well enough to ease the pressure. The same was the case with Azhar Ali, who looked clueless in the first innings and was benched for the second game for Fawad Alam.
Even the skipper admitted that the visitors lacked charisma with the bat.
“Definitely a tough game for us. Batting wasn't up to the mark,” Azam said in the presentation ceremony.
2. Time’s Up For Pakistan Player Hassan Ali
Pakistan fans have been unhappy with Hassan Ali for a long time, probably since his dropped catch against Australia in the last T20I World Cup semi-finals.
Their rage has only increased since then though because Ali has failed to deliver with the ball as well. He went on to drop crucial catches after the world cup, against the away series in West Indies and the Sri Lanka ICC World Test Championship series as well.
Moreover, the Punjab-born player failed to pick a single wicket in 27 overs combined in both innings of the second Test. He never seemed to swing the ball enough or hit the deck hard enough to trouble any batter.
He has taken five wickets in his last four Tests. His pace has declined, the lengths have been easier for the batters to pick and slower deliveries have become predictable over the period of time.
Azam has backed him for quite a few months now, but it seems like he will have to warm the bench for a while now, given that Azam makes the harsh call to bring in either Harish Rauf or Shahnawaz Dahani to replace the 2017 Champions Trophy’s Player of the Tournament.
While Ali has won Pakistan many games single-handedly in the past, he hasn’t quite been himself in a year or more.
Even in Pakistan’s dream run in the last world cup, the right-arm quick was treated by most opposition sides as the bowler they’d feast on. The teams had difficulty overcoming Haris Rauf and Shaheen Shah Afridi, while Ali did not ask them many questions in his overs.
1. Sri Lankan Player Dhananjaya De Silva Regains Form
Right-handed star Dhananjaya de Silva found his form in the second innings to score a match-winning knock while captaining the side in Dimuth Karunaratne’s absence.
His 109 kept the Pakistani bowlers at bay. The Hambantota native led the charge with the bat to give a massive target to the visitors, who ended up nowhere near the 500-run mark.
“I got a hundred after 13 odd innings, very happy with that,” the 30-year-old said after grabbing the Man of the Match award. “Had good support from my bowlers and Dimuth (Karunaratne) from the dressing room. It's hard work (captaincy), you have to manage the bowlers and keep people motivated.”
With Dinesh Chandimal and de Silva in red-hot forms, Sri Lanka will be eager to make it to the ICC World Test Championship finals and try their luck for the mace.