Batsman Sami Aslam accepts Pakistan would have been in a better position if he or his opening partner Shan Masood converted their fifties into big scores on the third day of their first Test against Sri Lanka.
Aslam and Masood gave the ‘hosts’ a strong start to Sri Lanka’s reply of 419 with a 114-run opening stand on Saturday at Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Zayed Stadium.
But the two were dismissed in the space of three overs with Aslam out for lbw on 51, while Masood (59) was bowled by Rangana Herath. His team will resume today on 266-4 with Azhar Ali unbeaten on 74.
For Aslam, it was the seventh time he failed to reach triple figures in the longer format after scoring a fifty. His highest Test score 91 came against New Zealand in the second Test in Hamilton in November.
The 21-year-old was left frustrated he could not build on his 51 but is confident it’s only a matter of time before he achieves the feat.
“In these conditions, it’s easy for the settled batsmen to score runs and difficult for new batsmen to come in because they need to face a a lot of new balls,” he said, who was dropped for the West Indies Test series in May. “We should have gone on to score big and at least one of the two openers should have done that.
“It is there in my mind that I have to score a century. I’m trying but today that ball stayed low and I was also wrong to play that shot. I would say I’m getting there and Inshallah I will score big soon.”
Azhar was also another player who scored a half-century but unlike Masood and Aslam, added to his innings to remain unbeaten on 74.
He crossed the 5,000 run mark in Tests yesterday and with 61 caps under his belt, much will be expected from him again to show all that experience today and build a healthy lead.
And Aslam feels yesterday’s knock showed Azhar is leading by example following the retirements of Misbah Ul-Haq and Younis Khan.
“He has been scoring lot of runs and as his career shows he has scored 5000 runs in 61 Tests,” he said. “He is scoring a lot of runs and for us is the main player after Younis (Khan) and Misbah (Ul Haq). He is the most senior player and has taken the responsibility in Pakistan team right now.”
For Sri Lankan wicket-keeper Niroshan Dickwella, he is adamant that today’s first session will be crucial if they want to come away with victory on Sunday.
“How you approach tomorrow morning will decide the game,” said the 24-year-old. “If we can take quick wickets and attack the batsmen and put them under pressure we have a good chance. If we get a lead of about 100-120, then it’s more than enough to put them back again on the fifth day.”
The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) had made it mandatory for all centrally contracted players to participate in the National T20 league in order to be eligible for No Objection Certificates (NOC) to play in foreign T20 leagues.
The country’s domestic National T20 League has been scheduled to take place in Multan and Faisalabad from November 7 to 23 later this year.
In a press release issued on Saturday, the PCB has mandated centrally contracted players to make themselves available for the domestic competition from November 7 to 17 before taking part in overseas T20 leagues like the Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) and Cricket South Africa’s inaugural Global T20 League.
PCB announces National T20 from 7th to 23rd Nov, NOC to players for T20GL and BPL to be issued after 17th Nov.
— Faizan Lakhani (@faizanlakhani) September 30, 2017
“PCB has decided that all the centrally contracted players, who are not facing any other restrictions, must also participate in PCB’s T20 tournament to strengthen our domestic cricket, as per international best practices,” the release stated.
“In order to facilitate our players and also keeping in view good relationship with Bangladesh and South Africa cricket boards, NOCs would be issued to all centrally contracted players to play BPL and Global T20 leagues, subject to the condition that they must play PCB’s T20 tournament.”
The BPL is set to take place from November 2 to December 10 while the Global T20 is scheduled to begin on November 3 until December 16.
As such, with several Pakistan players having signed up for the two leagues, their participation in the initial phases is now in doubt.
More than a dozen Pakistan players have penned deals with BPL while eight had confirmed their participation in the Global T20. One among them is Umar Akmal but his NOC has been revoked recently by the PCB as punishment for breaching his contract after his media outburst against coach Mickey Arthur.
Earlier in August, PCB chief Najam Sethi had revoked NOCs to 13 players plying their trade in the English County Championship and the Caribbean Premier League (CPL) in order to make themselves available for the National T20 League back home.
However, owing to the visit of the ICC World XI, the domestic competition had been postponed to November and players had been allowed to return to their respective teams after undergoing a fitness camp at the National Cricket Academy in Lahore.
Consistent Pakistan middle-order batsman Azhar Ali completed 5,000 runs in the longer format during the third day’s play in the first Test against Sri Lanka on Saturday.
The 32-year-old became the eighth Pakistan batsman to reach the milestone in his 61st Test, when he took a single to reach a personal score of 32.
Ali made his Test debut against Australia at Lord’s in Pakistan’s neutral venue series in England in 2010 and has since been a consistent performer with the bat.
He became the first century maker in a day-night Test during his epic triple hundred against the West Indies in Dubai last year.
He scored 1198 runs in 11 Tests in 2016, also including a fighting double hundred against Australia at Melbourne.
Younis Khan is the leading Test run-getter for Pakistan, with 10,099 runs in 118 Tests.
Here is the list of Pakistan batsmen who scored 5,000 or more runs in Test cricket (under Test and runs)
Younis Khan – 10,099
Javed Miandad – 8832
Inzamam-ul-Haq – 8829
Mohammad Yousuf – 7530
Salim Malik – 5768
Misbah-ul-Haq – 5222
Zaheer Abbas – 5062
Azhar Ali – 5,000
— ICC (@ICC) September 30, 2017