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.”