Tuesday, 24 October, 2017

Azhar Ali's fight keeps Pakistan in hunt in Abu Dhabi Test

Rangana Herath Sri Lanka Pakistan cricket Rangana Herath is mobbed by his team-mates after leading Sri Lanka to victory
Sammy Stanley | 03 October, 2017, 02:00

Rangana Herath, the ageless wonder from Sri Lanka assumed centre stage all over again as he scalped 6 wickets for just 43 runs as Pakistan were dismantled for 114 runs in their second essay.

A Test that was prefaced with a lament on both sides over the absence of heroes of the recent past was settled when a modern master took his 400th Test wicket, and bowled Sri Lanka to a stunning victory in the process.

The left-arm spinner went on to take three more wickets and towards the end the equation came down to Pakistan needing 25 runs to and Sri Lanka needing one wicket for a win.

The visitors then kept chipping away at Pakistan as Dilruwan Perera and Herath got Babar Azam and Asad Shafiq respectively and suddenly Pakistan were at sixes and sevens.

Sri Lanka, who resumed at 69-4, lost their last six wickets for 69 runs. "We should have chased this target", said Arthur, who saw Pakistan slide to a 10th defeat in 16 Tests since he took over a year ago. Actually I am ageing and when you get old, you feel soreness.

Pakistan, playing a Test match for the first time since Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan retired, had their opponents struggling at 61 for three at lunch. The management and selectors gave us a lot of confidence too.

Herath was the most successful bowler for Sri Lanka as he finished the day with 2-47. Had the stand continued to make runs at the going rate of scoring, it would have eaten into 11 more overs of the match.

Haris Sohail Pakistan Sri Lanka cricket
Haris Sohail was Pakistan’s top-scorer with 34 runs

The fact Sri Lanka head to Dubai for the second match - and their first floodlit Test - on Friday knowing they can not lose the series is a remarkable effort on a number of counts. Credit goes to people like Dickwella and Karunaratne. Dickwella was unbelievable in the second innings, he got us to the 140 mark.

The second meeting starts on Friday in Dubai.

Replying to a question by Geo News, Arthur stated that Pakistan had needed only one stable partnership to reach the target.

"We knew once we got that much, we have our legend (Herath) here".

Analysing the causes for the defeat, Sarfraz Ahmed said:"This is part of the game but I'm very disappointed because we had recovered really well in this game". Our batsmen played well but they didn't play any long innings.

"I have no idea how long he is going to play, but I am sure he will do what he can for the team. I've played almost 20 Tests, maybe that's why", he said. I was so happy with the remarkable achievement (400 wickets).

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