SL vs PAK: Five talking points from Sri Lanka-Pakistan series
SL vs PAK: After losing the first Test, Sri Lanka recovered to smash Pakistan in the second Test by 246 runs, levelling the series at 1-1.
Here are the five talking points from the Pakistan tour:
1) Babar Azam, the team’s captain, continued his impressive run of play to nearly single-handedly lead the tourists in the two-match series.
After chasing down a Galle record of 342, the squad won their first game thanks to Azam’s scores of 119 and 55.
He scored 81 in Pakistan’s monumental 508-run second Test chase, but it was a one-man battle against a motivated Sri Lankan spin attack.
The 27-year-old great hitter, who ranks third in Test batting behind Marnus Labuschagne and Joe Root, has averaged over 63 over the past 12 months.
In both ODI and T20 rankings, he is ranked first.
2) The first Test opener Abdullah Shafique made it a series to remember with his game-winning 160 not out. Azam was by no means the only standout among the tourists.
Azam predicted Shafique, 22, who batted patiently and resolutely as the tourists chased down the Galle record target, would rise to the top.
3) In the second Test, bowler Naseem Shah, 19, spooked the Sri Lankan batsmen with his speed. And claimed a match-high five wickets, adding to Pakistan’s consistent line of fast-bowling talent. That is topped by Shaheen Shah Afridi.
Galle hosted Australia and subsequently Pakistan in four back-to-back Test matches. Although the fielding conditions were drastically different in each match, much to the teams’ astonishment.
In the second match against Australia, Sri Lanka was defeated by the visitors on a pitch that turned on day four.
Sri Lanka’s spin coach Piyal Wijetunge claimed that on days four and five of the first match. The “wicket turned flat” as Pakistan attempted to break the Galle record.
Prior to their batting meltdown in the second game, Pakistan appeared confident of chasing down 508. But Azam said that the pitch was free of “demons.”
4) Prabath Jayasuriya, who claimed his fourth five-wicket haul in just his third Test, is now Sri Lanka’s new spin king.
The 30-year-old took 17 wickets in the series. And also three times out Azam by confusing the Pakistani batsmen with his left-arm spin.
Jayasuriya has taken 29 wickets in three Test matches since making his debut against Australia earlier this month. But he attributes the haul to bowling partnerships with the help of Ramesh Mendis.
Ramesh, a spinner, took nine wickets in the contest.
5) With dominating hits that left Pakistan’s bowlers perplexed, Dinesh Chandimal continued his scorching form.
The former skipper scored 76 and an unbeaten 94 in the first Test that Sri Lanka lost. But it was his 80 in that team’s opening innings that helped them dominate and win on Thursday.
After removed as captain in 2017, Chandimal, 32, has been in. And out of the Sri Lankan team while maintaining his composure.
In the most recent series against Australia, he achieved his first double century (206 unbeaten). And claimed that the encouragement of his friends and family had helped him become “mentally strong.”