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Anybody in search of final day heroics was best advised to look away from the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi. Pakistan toiled in attack, Sri Lanka toiled in defence. The result wore down viewers, not least because Pakistan failed to take up a challenge created for the age of T20 cricket.
Misbah-ul Haq, Pakistan's captain, said he was satisfied with his team's efforts, extracting positives not negatives from the performance. Ironically, it was his own negativity that ended up being scrutinised; first Mohali, now this.
In fairness, Misbah has a point. Pakistan's achievements in both first innings were impressive, especially Junaid Khan's five wicket haul and Taufeeq Umar's double hundred. Pakistan are troubled by the loss of Mohammad Amir; Junaid and Wahab Riaz are some solace. Pakistan have been troubled far longer by inconsistent openers; it is 19 years since a Pakistani opener, Amir Sohail, scored a double hundred.
Importantly, Pakistan dominated the Test until halfway into Sri Lanka's second innings, an unexpected position since Misbah declined to bat first on a docile track. Yes, Pakistan might have scored faster, but had fielders held simple chances Pakistan would have won by an innings.
Misbah blames the catching difficulties on a lack of confidence. He might also wish to examine selection? On such tracks, fast bowlers and wrist spinners are essential to force a result. Aziz Cheema is a worthy trier but Wahab's extra pace poses a greater test to batsmen. Unfortunately, our chief-selector turned coach failed to find himself a wrist spinner for this series, although spinners of all varieties require support from fielders to succeed.
Since last year's cursed tour of England, Pakistan have only lost one Test out of 8; they had lost 8 Tests in the previous year. Sri Lanka are difficult opponents, as Kumar Sangakkara proved with his rearguard double-hundred.
Despite the draw, then, Pakistan's cricketers have stopped the rot of previous years and Misbah has played a valuable role. But he needs to be careful. Thus far, Misbah's words have been more positive than his team's performance. A negative approach--justified or not--tends to sit uncomfortably with the Pakistani psyche.
Kamran Abbasi is an editor, writer and broadcaster. He tweets hereFeeds: Kamran Abbasi
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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Kamran Abbasi is an editor, writer and broadcaster. He was the first Asian columnist for Wisden Cricket Monthly and wisden.com. Kamran is the international editor of the British Medical Journal. @KamranAbbasi