Pakistan v Sri Lanka, 1st Test, Abu Dhabi, 5th day January 4, 2014

Pakistan take top-order pluses from draw

In the second innings in Abu Dhabi, albeit on a tame pitch, Mohammad Hafeez brought his ODI form into Tests and Ahmed Shehzad scored a half-century on debut - signs that have pleased Pakistan and Misbah-ul-Haq

Pakistan enjoyed positives in the shape of their top-order's form, despite flittering away their first-innings advantage in what turned out to be a tame draw in Abu Dhabi. The contest might not have been a thrilling one, thanks to the unresponsive surface, as both teams failed to get the opposition all out in the second innings, but Mohammad Hafeez scored his first Test half-century in 12 innings, while debutant Ahmed Shehzad showed he could produce at this level.

Pakistan's previous opening pair of Shan Masood and Khurram Manzoor was separated to give Shehzad a go, while Azhar Ali was left out to allow Hafeez to bat at No. 3. The new combination came off, despite Manzoor failing - he now has 0, 0, 21 and 8 in his last four innings. Hafeez was unbeaten on 80 in the second innings, while Shehzad followed up 38 with 55.

Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq was pleased to have the duo showing good signs. "It's important that we have our [top-order] batsmen in form," he said. "We have got ample positives out of the game as Hafeez converted his one-day form into Test form, while another plus for us is Ahmed. He is a good batsman and technically sound player."

Pakistan, arguably, could have tried something different in Sri Lanka's second innings to drag the game in their favour. Pakistan played with four specialist bowlers, with part-timer Hafeez being the fifth. They conceded 480 runs in 168.3 overs in the second innings, with Rahat Ali and Saeed Ajmal combining for 87.3 wicketless overs, but Misbah restrained himself from using Hafeez, or the part-time legbreaks of Shehzad.

When asked if he could have used his part-time bowlers to change things up, Misbah said the pitch was unresponsive anyway. "Later the spinners couldn't play their part on the sort of pitch we had - and that was a setback for both teams. They didn't contribute at all, that's the reason both teams weren't able to get all the batsmen out."

Pakistan subsequently had 67 overs to chase 302. Misbah said they had drawn up a plan to go for the win, but opted for the draw after Shehzad's dismissal. "With the first three batsmen, we just wanted to build partnerships. Our plan was that if we could reach around of 170-180 with 8-9 wickets in hand, then we could push on. But when Ahmed Shehzad got out and with one man short [Adnan Akmal was unfit], at that stage we thought we should go for the draw."

Misbah admitted Pakistan still had work to do on their batting, as they were in a position to take an even bigger first-innings lead but fell from 329 for 4 to 383 all out. "We need to work on our batting more as we at one stage were 350 for 4 and suddenly 383 all out. We should have got 450 odd runs on board to have big lead to put pressure on the opposition."

Misbah praised his counterpart Angelo Mathews for showing fight to earn Sri Lanka a respectable draw. "Test cricket is all about fluctuations. After getting somebody out in the first innings, you can't just think you've won the match," said Misbah."Mathews' innings [of 157 not out] is how teams fight back.

"They fought hard and batted well. Mathews batted very well and turned the match. The pitch was still doing a little bit, offering a bit on the fourth day, so credit should be given to the Sri Lanka batsman. They applied themselves very well. The ball was swinging but I think they, especially Mathews, played so well."

Despite Pakistan claiming just the one wicket on day four - Junaid thus missed out becoming the only Pakistan fast bowler to take 10 wickets in a match since 2009 - Misbah backed his bowlers. "Our bowling has been outstanding in first innings and also in the second one. They bowled in good areas but remained unlucky. Even if they [Sri Lanka] batted well, they still got sharply beaten, got edges that fell a bit short of fielders … So somehow the luck factor played its part and in the end both team ended up with a draw."

Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Shan.z on January 6, 2014, 18:14 GMT

    look at the PAK international tour calender what a poor next year they have. They are only hosting everyone. Then will end up playing world cup in NZ & AUS.

    Pak management should manage to get few ODi's in ENG,AUS or NZ before the world cup.

    Looks at the India they are playing 5 ODi's in AUS right before the world cup.

  • Cricinfouser on January 6, 2014, 14:45 GMT

    they should have played rehman. rehman spins the ball more than any other bowler in the pakistan line up, the ball would atleast have spun more than the other bowlers did. anyway good batting by hafeez and shehzad. we can replace him with shan if he is fluent with his score. we should find a good batsmen to replace khurram if he does not perform for a long time.

  • dummy4fb on January 6, 2014, 10:32 GMT

    Placid and unresponsive Pitch made this Test indecisive rathe than the team involved. The curators at Dubai now should make a pitch which would offer something for everybody so that dormancy we had witnessed in the first test wouldn't play any part in any regard!

  • dummy4fb on January 6, 2014, 10:25 GMT

    Well Pakistan did show glimpses of battle-hardened mindset during this Test Match which eventually culminated into meaningless Draw mostly owing to literally throw away what they achieved during the first two days of the match. SL may be rusty to started with but latter in the match they returned to their usual self first neutralizing the edge Pakistan gained and latter by building up a substantial lead to threaten Pakistan. Pakistan need to make room for the young blood who still are warming the benches but yet to make a mark in International cricket specially Talha. Now that the Akmal brethren are out of game, the recent one being sidelined owing to a finger injury, now is the high time to test a wk-batsman for many are waiting in the wings. Over all the Past year unveiled many positives for Pakistan specially when absence of International Cricket form Pakistan loomed large and inspite of many odds were against Pakistan, our team did tremendously well.

  • OSM999 on January 6, 2014, 2:23 GMT

    Who was responsible for making this dead wicket. Why even play test cricket if all you are going to do is waste time. It suits players like Misbah and Younas. Thye padded their batting stats nicely. Hafeez's technical weakness was not exposed. When they play on a real test cricket pitch, they will not do well.

    Pakistan should prepare lively wickets, if we loose that is fine. It is just a game. Let the best team win.

  • android_user on January 5, 2014, 21:24 GMT

    Misbah can't learn. A defensive Captain can't earn a victory. The fear of defeat loomed over him so much that he did'nt allow Hafeez his Ton, where as in first innings he exposed the tail like he always did. I think Srilanka dominated the first Test. Drop Danay Ali, Include Talha, Drop Ajmal include Rehman & include Azhar Ali in place of Asad Shafique

  • t20cric on January 5, 2014, 19:34 GMT

    I think Pakistan played pretty well to get a draw but still the collapse from 327/4 to 383/10 is horrible. I don't understand why everyone wants Khurram to be dropped considering the amazing series he had against SA. I think the only change should be Talha for Rahat and maybe Rehman for Ajmal to give Ajmal a break. They can also try Azhar instead of Asad.

    My XI: 1.Khurram Manzoor, 2.Ahmed Shehzad, 3. Mohammed Hafeez, 4.Younis Khan, 5.Misbah-ul-haq, 6.Asad Shafiq/Azhar Ali, 7.Sarfraz Ahmed, 8.Bilawal Bhatti, 9.Saeed Ajmal/Abdur Rehman, 10.Mohammad Talha, 11.Junaid Khan

    Hopefully this team has strong enough batting and bowling to make 300+ in at least one innings and take 20 wickets.

  • dummy4fb on January 5, 2014, 18:46 GMT

    pakistan really played well . For second test talha should play instead of rahat . rehman is decent bowler but we know lankans didnt give wickets to wizard ajmal so no need to play 2 spinners . We have always won matches against lanka due to fast bowlers . Ajmal Talha Junaid and Bhatti is decent attack and they will take 20 wkts in one of remaining 2 tests i am sure . In batting department i strongly urge selectors to include u19 captain sami aslam as he is technically sound and very consistent performer and play big innings . In this series i think if we play azhar ali at 3 and open with hafeez and shehzad wud b good if selectors want to drop khurram though i will still go with same batting but talha in place of rahat .

  • mensan on January 5, 2014, 16:14 GMT

    Bhatti looked a strong guy. He can be stock bowler in UAE conditions. He can bowl long spells. Talha can replace Rahat. Rahat had a long bowl and Pakistan must play 1 fresh fast bowler in 2nd test. Ideally Rehman should replace Asad Ali. Rehman should not be a bad batsman in UAE conditions.

  • dummy4fb on January 5, 2014, 15:41 GMT

    one need to understand the game, lot of peoples only give comments which are absurd (not worthy)in fact draw is a KEY for pakistan keeping in mind they were dominating first 2 days.WELL DONE Guys.

  • No featured comments at the moment.