Heavy rainfall at Dambulla halted proceedings in the first ODI between Sri Lanka and England with only 15 overs of play possible so far. With no respite in sight after several hours, the match was ultimately called off without any result.
Sri Lanka skipper Dinesh Chandimal won the toss and elected to field first on an overcast day. England openers Jonny Bairstow and Jason Roy started well with the bat and added 49 runs between themselves in no time before Nuwan Pradeep dismissed the former.
Roy departed soon after with Sri Lanka’s Akila Dananjaya getting his name into the wicket-column. Joe Root and skipper Eoin Morgan had started to stitch together a promising stand between themselves before inclement weather took a toll on proceedings. England were batting at 92-2 when rain halted play.
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Having taken a substantial 280-run lead in the first innings, Sarfraz Ahmed’s men added a further 181 runs in their second innings to hand Australia an improbable target of 462.
In reply, the Aussies had lost three wickets in the second innings by the time stumps were drawn on Wednesday with Pakistan seamer Mohammad Abbas accounting for all of them.
Here, we take a closer look at Abbas’ sublime display.
OVERS BOWLED: 11
RUNS CONCEDED: 26
Australia openers Aaron Finch and Usman Khawaja had frustrated the Pakistan bowlers at the start of the innings with another 50-run stand between the pair. After a fruitless second session, Pakistan came alive in the evening with Abbas leading the charge. The tireless seamer had been tight with his lines and accuracy all day and opened the floodgates with a destructive spell spanning seven balls. In those seven deliveries, Abbas accounted for Finch and brothers Shaun and Mitch Marsh as Australia went from 87-0 to 87-3.
Mohammad Abbas is like a surgeon with a cricket ball in hand. Such discipline and so precise. #AUSvPAK— ian bishop (@irbishi) October 10, 2018
In the eight Tests that Abbas had played prior to the Dubai clash, he has displayed an unnerving accuracy and supreme control of the swinging ball. On a flat track at Dubai with little assistance for pacers, the right-armed seamer was in his element and gave no breathing room to Australia’s batsmen with his superb line and length. Getting the ball to move into the right-hander and away from the left-handed batsmen, Abbas profited by not letting his accuracy waver at any time.
His move to come around the wicket to left-handers paid dividends with his delivery to dismiss the elder of the Marsh brothers being the perfect testament to his artistry. The ball initially shaped in towards the southpaw before holding its line with a hint of away movement to take Marsh’s outside edge.
Watching Abbas in full flow on day four was akin to watching a bowling masterclass. The 28-year-old was unrelenting with his deadly accuracy and barely did he give any semblance of any room to the Aussie batsman. In fact, his first 10 overs were entirely faultless and it was only in his final over of the day that the Pakistan man faltered with his line for once. Bowling seven overs on the trot on a hot day under the Dubai sun can be tiring for any fast bowler and Abbas can be excused for one wayward delivery after a fine spell which wreaked havoc on the visitors’ top-order.
VERDICT – 9/10
On a pitch tailor-made for spinners with barely any assistance for pacers, Abbas showed his elite credentials with a controlled display of swing and seam.
No other fast-bowler has taken more than three wickets across the two innings, so Abbas stands out with the unbelievable match figures of 7-55.
The Aussies had held fort for a large part on day four with Pakistan’s spinners Yasir Shah and Bilal Asif being nullified to a great extent by Finch and Khawaja.
However, just when Sarfraz Ahmed’s men were in need of some inspiration, Abbas put his hand up before unleashing a fiery spell that left Australia’s top-order in its wake.
Few other pacers could have thrived on that wicket but Abbas did and in some style. Now, he sits on the verge of becoming the joint quickest Pakistan bowler to 50 Test wickets and by the look of things on Wednesday, that feat should be a formality for him on the final day.
At stumps on day four, Australia had reached 136-3 in their second innings with Usman Khawaja and Travis Head unbeaten at the crease.
The hosts resumed on Wednesday on 45-3 in their second innings. Australia took three wickets before lunch with the hosts declaring at 181-6 in the post-lunch session for a target of 462 on a deteriorating pitch.
Aussie openers Usman Khawaja and Aaron Finch started well in the chase, taking the score to 87 before seamer Mohammad Abbas removed Finch and Shaun Marsh in one over. He then got Mitchell Marsh lbw with the score still on 87. Since then, Khawaja and Travis Head have held fort for Australia by keeping the Pakistan bowlers at bay.