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Misbah and Co's defensive approach in the 1st Test against Sri Lanka at Galle

By Abdul Shakeel (10th August, 2014) 

Pakistan cricket team is not called ‘unpredictable’ without reason. They can shock you and amaze you at any given point in time. They can snatch victory from the jaws of defeat or they can throw away a game when they are in the driving seat. 

In the 1st Test against Sri Lanka at Galle, most Pakistan cricket fans thought the match was heading towards a draw but the Pakistan cricket team shocked them by losing it by 7 wickets. 

Pakistan was in trouble early on when they opted to bat first and lost three early wickets just for 56 runs. But after that Younis Khan and Skipper Misbah-ul-Haq came together and scored a 100-run partnership. Misbah was caught for 31 but Younis continued to boost Pakistan’s total with the help of young Asad Shafiq and Sarfraz Ahmed who scored 75 and 55 each. Younis also scored his 24thTest century and broke the record of the great Javed Miandad who had 23 centuries, levelled Mohammad Yousuf’s record and is just one century behind Inzamam-ul-Haq. Younis hit 8x4s and 1x6 in his ton. 

Younis Khan got out just 23 runs short of his double-century but Rehman surprised the opposition by scoring 50 down the order and helped Pakistan set a healthy total of 451 in their first innings. 

Dilruwan Perera and Rangana Herath took 5 and 3 wickets respectively. 

Junaid Khan got rid of Tharanga early on but after that Pakistan had to wait for a long while for the wickets. Mr Dependable, Sangakkara, was on the crease and kept Sri Lanka in the driving seat in partnership with Silva and Mahela who both scored fifties. Skipper Mathews missed his ton as he fell in nervous 90s. On the other hand, Sangakkara kept going and completed his 10th double-century and helped Sri Lanka to take 82 runs lead in the first innings. Pakistan’s bowler’s looked ordinary in that innings. It was the first time in a Test match that Saeed Ajmal took his first wicket after giving away 129 runs in 47 overs. Pakistan’s fielding did not provide much support to their bowlers. A few chances were missed by our fielders but the turning point in that innings was when Pakistan did not take the review of an early on LBW shout against Sangakkara by Saeed Ajmal. Replay confirmed that the ball was hitting middle and leg-stump. We also saw the same poor decision-making when it comes to reviews in the case of Ahmed Shehzad’s dismissal. Sangakkara’s double ton and Mahela’s warm welcome were the highlights of Sri Lanka’s first innings.

Saeed Ajmal took 5 wickets.

Pakistan started off their 2nd innings with a negative and defensive approach as they trailed by 82 runs. They dramatically collapsed at 180. Azhar Ali and Sarfraz Ahmed showed some resistance with 41 and 52 runs each. Once again, Rangana Hearth – slow left arm orthodox – was a dilemma for Pakistani batsmen. He took 6 wickets and opened the door for Sri Lanka to win this Test match.

The target for Sri Lanka was just 99, which they achieved quickly just before it started raining. Sri Lanka won the match by 7 wickets.

The other bad news for Pakistan is that off-spinner Saeed Ajmal has been reported with a suspected illegal bowling action during the 1st Test at Galle.

According to the ICC, “Ajmal’s bowling action will now be scrutinised further under the ICC process relating to suspected illegal bowling actions reported in Tests, ODIs and T20Is. He is required to undergo testing within 21 days, and, during this period, Ajmal is permitted to continue bowling in international cricket until the results of the testing are known.”

With the loss of the first Test, there is a lot of pressure on Pakistan to win the 2nd Test and square the series. If they do not win the 2ndTest, they will jump from 3rd position to 6th position in the ICC Test ranking. The 2nd Test starts on 14th August in Colombo.