About the Match
The first test between Pakistan and Sri Lanka seemed to be meandering to a draw before coming to life in spectacular fashion. A small fourth inning chase on a surface that was far from unplayable should have been easy for Pakistan but Sri Lanka managed to snatch a memorable victory. Will the second test follow the same route or go a different way?
Faced with a 400 plus first inning total from Sri Lanka, Pakistan managed to reply in the same coin and ensured that there would be no deficit for them to overcome in the second innings. Pakistan then followed to roll the Sri Lankans over for 138 and had to chase down 136 for victory.
A spectacular collapse though saw them lose the test match by 21 runs.
The first instinct of people will be to blame this collapse on the absence of Misbah and Younis but Pakistan has collapsed with those two stalwarts in the middle order as well. This current Pakistani batting lineup had withstood everything that Sri Lanka had thrown against them in the first innings.
Possible the pressure of batting fourth got to them against a wily Rangana Herath.
As Pakistan moves to Dubai for the second test match, they will want to build on the positives from the first test. Shan Masood and Sami Aslam formed an impressive opening partnership while Azhar Ali continued to score runs (some very dull and slow ones) and Haris Sohail showed himself to be a worthy addition to the middle order.
This lineup has the potential to be a strong batting lineup as they play more test cricket and get the experience of facing different situations. Right now though they are susceptible to collapse. We would be worried if Pakistan has to bat fourth once again in this test match bat out a draw or chase down a bigger total.
The biggest plus for Pakistan from the first match was the success of Yasir Shah. He ended the match with 8 wickets, 5 of them coming in the second inning and continues to pass every obstacle thrown at him.
This pitch was not the easiest for a spinner, requiring patience and constantly attacking the batsman but he was up to it. Mohammad Amir finished wicketless in a disappointing show but Mohammad Abbas was very impressive.
Hasan Ali also struggled to find the zip that is associated with him on this slow surface. Pakistan has a superior bowling lineup which kept them in the game but was eventually let down by their batsmen.
A super first inning show by the Sri Lankan batsmen led by their skipper Dinesh Chandimal set up the match for Sri Lanka. A collapse in the second inning threatened to throw that advantage away, however, a brilliant bowling performance from Rangana Herath eventually won them the game.
Chandimal was supported by some excellent performances from Karunaratne, Dickwella and a useful hand from Dilruwan Perera.
We think this Sri Lankan side has the superior batting lineup to Pakistan and that could be key on the low, slow pitches of the middle-east. Kusal Mendis did not have a good outing but he will be keen to rectify that and get in the thick of things as well.
He is the batsman we would back to get a big score for Sri Lanka in the second inning.
It will also be interesting to see how Chandimal follows up his fantastic century from the first match. He has a well-earned reputation of making important runs but inconsistency has dogged him throughout his test career. He needs to step up and start scoring runs consistently to allow Dickwella, Karunaratne, and Mendis to play freely.
With Kaushal Silva and Thirimanne also in the lineup, this Sri Lankan team should not be struggling for runs on most occasions.
The bowling for Sri Lanka is another matter though. 11 wickets for Rangana Herath, including 6 in the second innings defending a small total, are an indication of how much they depend on one man to pull them through.
We struggle to think what will happen if Herath has a bad game. Dilruwan Perera was good in the second innings but he does not yet have the nous to win games on his own.
Suranga Lakmal and Nuwan Pradeep bowled steadily but they are never going to play a major role on these surfaces. The ineffectiveness of Sandakan would be a matter of concern although we really hope Sri Lanka plays him again in this match.
Sandakan has shown himself to take wickets in clumps whenever he gets going and that could be a big advantage.
Pitch and Conditions
The weather will be hot and dry, no surprises, while the pitch will be slow and low. If there is to be a result in this match then it will likely come on the last day and will need a couple of batting collapses to happen.
We think that Sri Lanka will be happy to register a 1-0 victory after the torrid time they have had of late and will play for a draw. That could leave the door open for the Pakistani bowlers to attack but we fear their batting is not going to be able to follow suit.
Backing a draw
is the smart way to go here