Can either team take twenty wickets?
Match FactsPakistan v Sri Lanka, October 26, Dubai
Start time 1000 (0600 GMT)
Pakistan wasted the opportunity to go 1-0 up in Abu Dhabi by dropping several catches in Sri Lanka's second innings. Sri Lanka pulled off a great escape, wiping out a 314-run deficit by batting more than two days to save the Test. So who possesses that intangible advantage - momentum - as the teams prepare for battle in Dubai?
Tillakaratne Dilshan said firmly that his team held the edge. He would, of course. Having been pushed into the tightest of corners, they found a way out, through the resolute batting of Kumar Sangakkara and Prasanna Jayawardene. However, the rest of their batsmen, with the exception of Angelo Mathews, failed in both innings. So there's no real reason for the others to go to Dubai with increased confidence. The greater worry, though, is their bowling attack, which managed to take only seven Pakistan wickets in 184.4 overs on a pitch that was not especially flat. And a flat one will be on offer sooner or later in the UAE.
Pakistan, on the other hand, dominated four days of the Test only to waste all their hard work through a spate of dropped chances that allowed both Sangakkara and Prasanna Jayawardene to bat for much longer than they should have. Pakistan's batsmen found run-scoring easy against an ineffective Sri Lankan attack, but it was the performance of their bowlers that will have encouraged them. The fast bowlers found movement and the spinners extracted turn to dismiss Sri Lanka for 197, a first-innings total far below par on that pitch. Even in the second innings, when batting appeared easier, they created plenty of chances. It wasn't their fault their fielders didn't take them. The challenge for Pakistan, however, will be to summon the energy to do it all over again, in conditions as hot and on a pitch that might not be as responsive.
Sri Lanka: DDDLD
Back-to-back Tests are tough on the fitness of players in most conditions, but the intensity of the challenge rises significantly when they are played in the fierce heat of the desert. Pakistan's fast bowlers had plenty of work to do in Abu Dhabi, and if they can produce a similar effort - challenging Sri Lanka with pace, movement and accuracy - it will be a testament to their fitness and talent.
With Angelo Mathews not bowling, Sri Lanka had only a four-bowler attack, plus part-timer Dilshan, in Abu Dhabi, of which Rangana Herath was the solitary specialist spinner. He toiled for 63.4 overs but could pick up only three Pakistan wickets. Sri Lanka will need more from their most-experienced bowler, around whom the fast bowlers will have to be rotated. To his credit, though, Herath did control the run-flow effectively.
Taufeeq Umar, who batted 12 hours for a double-century in Abu Dhabi, had a finger injury during the Test that prevented him from fielding in the slips. Interim coach Mohsin Khan said Umar Gul also had a few niggles, but nothing serious. Both should be fit to play, and if there are no other fitness issues, expect Pakistan to name an unchanged XI.
Pakistan (likely): 1 Mohammad Hafeez, 2 Taufeeq Umar, 3 Azhar Ali, 4 Younis Khan, 5 Misbah-ul-Haq, 6 Asad Shafiq, 7 Adnan Akmal (wk), 8 Umar Gul, 9 Aizaz Cheema, 10 Saeed Ajmal, 11 Junaid Khan
Sri Lanka could tinker with their bowling attack, considering the one used in Abu Dhabi struggled to make an impact. Nuwan Pradeep went wicketless on debut. Their bowling bench-strength comprises fast bowler Dhammika Prasad and offspinner Suraj Randiv. The inability of Mathews to bowl severely affects the balance of their team because there is space for only four specialist bowlers and no allrounder.
Sri Lanka (likely): 1 Tharanga Paranavitana, 2 Lahiru Thirimanne, 3 Kumar Sangakkara, 4 Mahela Jayawardene, 5 Tillakaratne Dilshan (capt), 6 Angelo Mathews, 7 Prasanna Jayawardene (wk), 8 Nuwan Pradeep/Dhammika Prasad/Suraj Randiv, 9 Rangana Herath, 10 Chanaka Welegedera, 11 Suranga Lakmal.
Pitch and conditions
The temperatures are expected to be in the mid-30s but the pitch temperature will be a few degrees higher. Tillakaratne Dilshan said he expected the pitch to have more bounce than the one in Abu Dhabi did. "A good test wicket," he called it.
Stats & Trivia
- There were four hundreds scored in Dubai's maiden Test, when Pakistan played South Africa last year. In the second innings, the two teams scored an aggregate of 661 runs for the loss of five wickets; in the first, they scored 628 for the loss of 20. Three out of four hundreds were scored in the second innings.
- Since the beginning of 2009, Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan have added five century partnerships in seven innings. Their partnerships are: 130, 186*, 3, 142, 118, 100, 8* - 687 runs at 137.40.
- Kumar Sangakkara needs 32 to equal Inzamam-ul-Haq's record for most runs scored in Tests between these two teams. Inzamam scored 1559 in 31 innings; Sangakkara has 1527 in 21, at an average of 80.36.
" After such a [bad] performance in the field, we got two days so we have worked really hard on that, let's hope for the best in the second test"
Misbah-ul-Haq on Pakistan's catching.
"We had discussions on which area to improve and did that in training sessions. As a batting unit we are fully prepared to do well in this Test. Confidence is really high after the way we made a comeback and did so many things to save it [the first Test]."
George Binoy is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo