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Umar Farooq in Dubai
January 7, 2014
Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq is banking on his spinners to deliver at a venue that he said has assisted turn significantly in the past. Misbah felt the pitch in Dubai would be conducive for a result, but weather was poor on the eve of the second Test.
"If you look at the history of this ground, this pitch I think it really slows down and it really gives something to the spinners," Misbah said. "Both of our spinners had success here. Usually go with two spinners on this [surface] because on the third, fourth and fifth days spin plays a big role here. Let's see tomorrow how the pitch is, and then we decide."
Saeed Ajmal and Abdur Rehman, the spinners Pakistan are likely to play in the second Test, are the top two wicket-takers in Dubai. Ajmal has 34 wickets at 20.11 apiece and Rehman has 19 at 28.26.
"Both teams realise this is the pitch where we can really have a result," Misbah said. "We really want to put a big effort here. I think Sri Lanka also know that this is the chance where they can get a lead."
Pakistan lost their most recent game in Dubai - against South Africa - but they beat Sri Lanka there in 2011, by nine wickets. It's their only win against Sri Lanka in the last 12 Tests between the countries. "Yes of course, if you look at the last two years' success we depend more on our spin and Sri Lankans play our spinners very well," Misbah said. "It isn't easy to get through their batting line-up. We are just discussing different plans how to go about that and how we can get 20 wickets against them."
The teams had practiced under overcast conditions on Monday but had to cancel their sessions on the eve of the match because of rain. With temperatures as low as 10-12C, the forecast for the first day is not good. Misbah, however, was optimistic.
"Hopefully it will be better and we can have a proper game of five days," he said. "I haven't seen the wicket and the rain may play a role. It's different weather, let's see tomorrow how the pitch is, and hopefully it's definitely going to help the spinners at some stage."
Pakistan failed to grab their chance in the first Test in Abu Dhabi, after Sri Lanka had been dismissed for 204. Pakistan achieved a lead because of hundreds from Misbah and Younis Khan, but the advantage was not as big as it could have been because the lower-middle order fell away. Misbah had wanted his batsmen to shut Sri Lanka out of the game.
"I think the areas we really lacked is batting for big runs," Misbah said. "We need to work on our batting more. We should have got 450-odd to have a big lead and put pressure on the opposition.
"In the second innings we could not really penetrate their batting line-up so we need to set different plans for different players. We could not take wickets with the new ball, that's the area we need to improve. I think we need to study other players also, we did very well against their main players, their two senior players, but we need to focus on others also."
Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent. He tweets hereFeeds: Umar Farooq
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