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October 29, 2011
Misbah-ul-Haq, the Pakistan captain, has said the key to his side's victory against Sri Lanka in the second Test, in Dubai, was that they had four match-winning bowlers. He was full of praise for his team's "thorough, professional performance" that earned him a fourth win in nine Tests since taking over the captaincy, following the alleged spot-fixing in England last year.
"We don't really have one key bowler we rely on because all our bowlers are match-winners," Misbah said. "In this Test, Umar Gul took wickets in the first innings, Saeed Ajmal in the second and Junaid Khan took wickets in both innings. Abdur Rehman also chipped in and in the first Test Aizaz Cheema had several wickets.
"I think it was a thorough, professional performance and I am really happy about our progress. I think our bowlers put a lot of pressure [on Sri Lanka], we got Kumar Sangakkara early. His was the key wicket because he is a world-class player, that boosted our confidence and put theirs down."
Sri Lanka had begun the fourth day on 88 for 1 with Sangakkara batting on 29. He added only one more run this morning before Abdur Rehman trapped him lbw. Saeed Ajmal spearheaded Pakistan's victory push, taking 5 for 68 and bowling Sri Lanka out for 257 with enough time left in the day to secure victory. Pakistan had played a second specialist spinner in Abdur Rehman in this Test and he contributed four wickets.
"I think we have played a lot of cricket here and normally this pitch helps the spinners. On the basis of that we decided to play with two spinners and that was the key," Misbah said. "Ajmal is a world-class spinner and a match-winner, and so is Rehman. They did very well for us."
Tillakaratne Dilshan, the Sri Lanka captain, has asked his batsmen to apply themselves better following Pakistan's nine-wicket victory with a day to spare in the Dubai Test. Sri Lanka were dismissed for 239 in their first innings, conceded a 164-run lead, and managed only 257 in their second, setting Pakistan a target of 94, which was achieved in the 25th over. Pakistan lead the three-Test series 1-0.
"The batsmen should apply themselves. They must trust their own game plan and play their own game," Dilshan said. "If we had got 350 runs in the first innings, it would have been a different game."
Kumar Sangakkara, who scored 78, was the only batsman to make a half-century in Sri Lanka's first innings. And if not for Chanaka Welegedara's 48 at No. 10, they would have been bowled out for fewer than 239. In the second innings, only Tharanga Paranavitana and Angelo Mathews made half-centuries, when Sri Lanka needed a monumental effort to save the Test.
"As a batting group, we have to improve and come out stronger," Dilshan said. "Bowlers, again, did a good job, but we have to keep our heads up and come out hard in the third Test."
Both captains said they were in favour of using the DRS after a few questionable decisions in the Test. In Pakistan's first innings, Mohammad Hafeez was given out lbw to one that seemed to be headed down leg side while Azhar Ali had got a a bottom edge onto the ball that was adjudged to have trapped him in front. Sri Lanka had two iffy lbw decisions - against Sangakkara and Dilshan - hurt them in their second innings, while Angelo Mathews survived a pretty adjacent call.
"I will always go for the DRS because it helps the teams and the umpires and produces good cricket," Misbah said.
The third Test between Pakistan and Sri Lanka begins in Sharjah on November 3.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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