Pakistan v Sri Lanka, 2nd Test, Dubai, 1st day January 8, 2014

Sri Lankan quicks vindicate Mathews' decision

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Sri Lanka 57 for 1 trail Pakistan 165 (Manzoor 73, Pradeep 3-62, Herath 3-26) by 108 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews made the unprecedented decision to bowl in Dubai - the first time in six Tests a captain had put the opposition in at this venue - and then watched his three frontline fast bowlers consistently test the Pakistan batsmen for scant reward before lunch. They bowled with similar accuracy and skill in the remaining sessions too, but Pakistan's luck and Khurram Manzoor's resolve had withered, and the returns were rich for the visiting side.

The rationale behind team selections - both sides decided against a second specialist spinner - at a venue that traditionally favoured spin was not immediately clear. However, as the day wore on, it became apparent that the early seam movement and bounce extracted by Sri Lanka's bowlers was not going to disappear. The deviation was not extravagant, but it was more than enough to pose a constant challenge.

Pakistan opener Manzoor batted with good judgement in the middle of a largely empty stadium but there were jitters at the other end. They made it to lunch on 57 for 1 only because two edges were dropped - one chance causing Mahela Jayawardene to split his webbing and go off the field for the day - and several seaming deliveries beat the outside edge. The crash began early in the second session, though: Pakistan slumped from 78 for 1 to 165 all out, with the Sri Lankan quicks claiming the first seven wickets.

Perhaps Mathews had decided to bowl because Pakistan had been routed for 99 the last two times they batted first in Dubai, or because the team batting second had won three out of five Tests at the venue. After Sri Lanka's bowlers had vindicated his decision, his batsmen began to do so as well. With Pakistan's quicks not seaming the ball as much at the start, Sri Lanka's openers added 40 in 11 overs before Dimuth Karunaratne had a marginal lbw upheld against him. Kaushal Silva and Kumar Sangakkara prevented further loss, taking Sri Lanka within 108 runs of a first-innings lead when bad light ended play.

The pace of this Test had taken a few quick twists around the lunch break. Pakistan had been cautious all morning but Manzoor and Mohammad Hafeez began the second session aggressively. Manzoor cut twice and edged once to the boundary in the first over after lunch, from Nuwan Pradeep, and Hafeez pulled and cut short balls from the left-arm spinner Rangana Herath.

The spurt of runs had taken the second-wicket partnership to 50 when Pradeep, playing his first Test since January 2013, nipped one in off the seam to bowl Hafeez between bat and pad. Pradeep's first wicket, in the morning, had also come via an inswinger that struck Ahmed Shehzad plumb in front. Manzoor carried on, seeing off deliveries from Suranga Lakmal that seamed and bounced, to bring up his sixth half-century after twin failures in the Abu Dhabi Test. He then charged Herath, lofting over the straight boundary for the game's first six.

Pakistan were fragile at the other end, though, and Younis Khan's habit of pushing away from his body at deliveries that shaped away from him eventually resulted in an edge to the keeper, giving Shaminda Eranga his first wicket. Eranga took another with the first ball off his next over, drawing another edge to dismiss Pakistan's captain Misbah-ul-Haq, reducing the innings to 109 for 4.

Pradeep and Eranga had provided the breakthroughs while Lakmal, arguably Sri Lanka's best bowler on the day, had gone wicketless. He was soon rewarded with the biggest scalp, when Manzoor's patience thinned and he prodded and edged to give Prasanna Jayawardene his third catch. Lakmal picked up Asad Shafiq before tea too, via a tame chip to cover, and Pakistan had lost four wickets for 20 runs.

Sri Lanka made short work of the Pakistan tail in the final session, with Herath picking up the scraps left by the quicks. Resuming on 128 for 6, Pakistan lost their wicketkeeper Sarfaraz Ahmed for the addition of only one run. His wicket went to Pradeep, who bowled an accurate outswinger to draw the outside edge to the wicketkeeper. Herath mopped up the rest, completing a clinical and collective performance by Sri Lanka's bowling attack, setting the Test up for their batsmen.

George Binoy is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • mzm149 on January 9, 2014, 8:34 GMT

    @Yousufahmed1: As pathetic as losing to Bangladesh in Asia Cup. As pathetic as conceding 350+ runs twice in a month in ODI games against Australia. As pathetic as losing a test series to England even at home. As pathetic as losing ODI series to Pakistan at home. As pathetic as not winning a single test match in England, South Africa and Australia on last tours. As pathetic as never winning a series in South Africa. The list continues.

  • gsingh7 on January 9, 2014, 8:17 GMT

    sl at 132/3 .only 33 behind now. it looks like sl will beat pak at their homegrounds uae this time around. but it will not make much difference in rating points and both teams will remain outside of top 4. top 4 is must to play in world test championships.it looks like india will be only team to represent asia in world test championship as they are clear 2nd in test rankings and have considerable gap from team at number 5.

  • Cricketlover54 on January 9, 2014, 7:49 GMT

    @Yousufahmed1. As pathetic as creating run fests in back yard to inflate your 2nd rate batsman's average.

  • Yousufahmed1 on January 9, 2014, 7:35 GMT

    @ mzm149 As pathetic as losing a test match to ZIM????

  • dummy4fb on January 9, 2014, 7:29 GMT

    I support Zimbabwe, through thick and thin, from the days of teams of whites only through to the modern era where teams are picked for their skill level, not their race. Sri Lanka are the Shumba's (Lion's) of world cricket. After Zim took Pakistan to the cleaners last year, SL should be able to press, iron and hang them in the wardrobe! Come on Lanka!

  • ICCexpert.... on January 9, 2014, 7:24 GMT

    Rahat Ali lacks pace and looks like a 50 year old man who is struggling to run.

  • gsingh7 on January 9, 2014, 7:11 GMT

    Posted by Muhammad Maarij -- last i checked pak lost 3-0 in sa last year. it was home series in uae that was a draw. india was not whitewashed in sa as first test was a great draw. also check icc official rankings in all formats to compare different teams from sub continent. india are clear second in test cricket in official icc rankings.

  • mzm149 on January 9, 2014, 7:09 GMT

    @samincolumbia: You are again boasting World Cup wins. I have already told you time again that of all those wins only TWO were significant where India beat Pakistan to lift the cup. One in World T20 2007 and one in ODI World Cup 2011. Rest had not more importance than any other ODI or T20 game.

    For your record Pakistan has better overall head to head record again India in ODIs (71-50) and tests (12-9).

    BTW winning or losing these games doesn't make India's toothless attack any better. Bowling unit which cannot defend 458 on 5th day of test match on the most bowling friendly pitch and is on the verge of making history in terms of test match run chase is indeed pathetic.

  • dummy4fb on January 9, 2014, 6:59 GMT

    I think game is still on Paksitan side if Sri Lanka couldn't get 225 in the first innings this match is over. I think if SL bowlers restricted Pakistan for 168 Pakistan bowlers are more capable of restrict SL under 200 .... so we're having a game here

  • EngineerKhan on January 9, 2014, 6:53 GMT

    I am a Pakistani and I think time to call a spade a spade. There were no daemons in the pitch. Very very flat track and in fact I was feeling hard for the visitor bowlers. It was poor poor batting by Pakistan which led to their down-fall. You can't play in South Africa as pitches are green. You have horrible tours of England. Australia always manages to clean-sweep you and even you lose to Zimbabwe and now in your own backyard this abysmal batting performance. Look at the technique behind Shehzad, Hafeez wickets. Misjudging very straight deliveries. Steven Smith can bat better than our batsmen..