Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur believes the top-order batsmen must shoulder some responsibility for failing to give the team a solid start in their second innings chase on Monday.
Needing 136 to win the first Test at Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi, the hosts were reeling at 36-5 after openers Shan Masood (7), Sami Aslam (2), Azhar Ali (0) and Asad Shafiq (20) struggled against Sri Lanka’s attack.
More was expected from them especially after Masood (59), Aslam (51) and Ali (85) scored half-centuries in the first innings and Arthur felt at least one big partnership was needed to beat Sri Lanka.
“My thoughts were that one good partnership would get us home and that needed to have come from the top four and others to bat around them but unfortunately it didn’t happen,” he said.
“I’m just really disappointed with the way things panned out. Today chasing 136 you expect one good partnership so that’s particularly disappointing., It was challenging but we probably should have got there.”
Veteran spinner Rangana Herath was the catalyst, taking match figures of 11-139 including a spell-binding 6-43 in the second innings.
Arthur rued the opportunity that his batsmen could not attack Herath more.
“We did a lot of homework on him,” said the 49-year-old South African. “Our players played against him a lot. But obviously on the last day he was always going to be a factor and you got to give him more respect but I would probably have liked to see our batsmen take him on.
“Early on, I would have liked us to attack him, once you take him on and that goes for any bowler, the game sort of settles down. Had one partnership goes on, I am going back to Niroshan Dickwella in the morning and for a period when Ahmed Sarfraz and Sohail Haris (42-run stand for the sixth-wicket) were batting – the key to that was to remain positive and not get tentative, looking for runs. So if you allow Herath to settle down he will do what he did today so I would have liked us to have attacked him more.”
Rangana Herath became the second Sri Lankan to bag 400 wickets as his six-wicket haul steered Sri Lanka to a thrilling 21-run win over Pakistan in the first Test in Abu Dhabi on Monday.
The veteran left-arm spinner took 6-43 – 11-136 in the match – to scupper Pakistan, set a modest 136-run target, for just 114 on a weary fifth day Sheikh Zayed Stadium pitch.
The victory was achieved when Herath trapped last man Mohammad Abbas leg before for nought to give Sri Lanka a 1-0 lead in the two-match series.
Herath, a long-time nemesis of Pakistan, also completed 100 wickets in 20 Tests against them, during an innings in which only debutant Haris Sohail fought with some resolve for his 34 runs.
Herath became the 14th bowler in all Test cricket and fifth spinner behind his countryman Muttiah Muralitharan, Australia’s Shane Warne and Indian duo of Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh to reach the 400-wicket milestone.
The 136 set Pakistan was Sri Lanka’s lowest defended target, improving on the 168 they set the Pakistanis in the Galle Test in 2009. It was also a first defeat for Pakistan at this venue in 10 Tests.
Earlier, leg-spinner Yasir Shah took 5-51 – his 32nd five wicket haul in Tests – to dismiss Sri Lanka for 138 in their second innings.
Niroshan Dickwella ensured Sri Lanka had something to defend with a pugnacious 40.
Pakistan started the chase on a shaky note when Herath dismissed opener Sami Aslam for two before accounting for Asad Shafiq, who made 20.
— ICC (@ICC) October 2, 2017
Herath had taken 5-93 in Pakistan’s first innings of 422 and this time he shared the new ball with Suranga Lakmal to put Pakistan in trouble with regular wickets.
Perera then had Shan Masood (seven) and a shaky Babar Azam for three to leave Pakistan struggling at 32-4.
In between fast bowler Lakmal had Azhar Ali caught behind for nought.
On the either side of tea, Sohail and Sarfraz Ahmed (19) fought hard to stitch a 42-run stand but Herath provided the breakthrough when he forced the Pakistan skipper out of his crease and had him stumped by Dickwella.
Perera ended Sohail’s fight by trapping him leg before and also had Shah but it turned out to be a no-ball, halting Sri Lanka’s celebrations, eventually provided by Herath.
Pakistan, led by Shah, bowled well in the morning.
Sri Lanka, who resumed at 69-4, lost their last six wickets for 69 runs but Dickwella still put up a lone fight – hitting four boundaries – and more importantly giving Sri Lanka a target to fight.
Pakistan were given two key wickets by medium fast bowler Mohammad Abbas who finished with 2-22.
It was then left to Shah who on consecutive deliveries dismissed Perera for six and then had Herath caught by close in fielder to complete his fourth consecutive five wicket haul in as many Tests.
Dickwella then took a rearguard action, shielding the number 10 Lakshan Sandakan from the bowling during a resistance-packed ninth wicket stand of 34 which came in 10.1 overs.
Shah finally had Sandakan caught at point while Hasan Ali (1-21) ended the innings by bowling Nuwan Pradeep, leaving Dickwella’s fight stranded.
The second Test – a day-night match – starts in Dubai from Friday.
A thriller! Sri Lanka win a gripping 1st #PAKvSL Test, bowling Pakistan out for 114 to win by 21 runs.
— ICC (@ICC) October 2, 2017
Provided by AFP Sport
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.”