Pakistan v Sri Lanka, 2nd Test, Dubai, 4th day

T20 kings show Test aptitude

Though unsuccessful for long stretches during Pakistan's rearguard, the Sri Lanka attack demonstrated admirable patience and application

Andrew Fidel Fernando in Dubai

January 11, 2014

Comments: 31 | Text size: A | A

Shaminda Eranga appeals against Misbah-ul-Haq, Pakistan v Sri Lanka, 2nd Test, Dubai, 4th day, January 11, 2014
Sri Lanka's seamers had no luck against Misbah-ul-Haq but still maintained their discipline © AFP
Enlarge

As gloom came to rest above the Dubai stadium in the morning, Misbah-ul-Haq began his long, dreary filibuster. For 37 balls the match stalled on his unambitious blade and Sri Lanka's bowlers could do little more than settle into their channels. Though unsuccessful for long stretches, and lacking a team-mate to provide respite with a back-spell of bowling, the attack did not stray until stumps were drawn.

During Sri Lanka's Test-free months in 2013, they had counted their top Twenty20 ranking among their proudest achievements. In that format, variation rules and predictability ends careers. Somehow, while the short-form specialists were doing just enough to safeguard the team's place atop the table, the Test bowlers had developed a taste for attrition. Misbah seemed so set on defence that perhaps not even wayward deliveries would have stirred him from his reverie, but Sri Lanka's bowlers can be satisfied that, nine days into the series, they are yet to produce a truly poor spell between them.

Pakistan will no doubt be more content with their day's returns, having lost only four wickets and having pushed the match into a fifth day, where there is a chance rain will define the outcome. But on a pitch offering little for either seam bowlers or spinners, Sri Lanka's toil was admirable. The bowling coach will find little to fault with his side's pitch maps, and there were spells in which balls routinely passed the edge, having deviated off the surface.

Shaminda Eranga's aptitude for reverse swing was evident later in the day, particularly when he tailed one in late to Bilawal Bhatti, who jammed down on the ball, but could not prevent it spilling on to the stumps. Suranga Lakmal was the most menacing bowler with the second new ball, and Nuwan Pradeep showcased a gift for bowling tightly, after he had been the attacking option earlier in the Test.

"Bowling with patience has to happen in any Test match," Rangana Herath said afterwards. "No matter if the opposition scores quickly or slowly, if we can make run-making as difficult as possible, that is the characteristic of a good attack. I think we have that in this attack. There are things to improve, but we have the right attributes. There is a big improvement since the Australia tour at the end of 2012. If we get to play Tests in quick succession in the future, we'll be able to improve further."

Five-wicket hauls from Herath himself have featured in four out of five Sri Lanka wins since Muttiah Muralitharan retired, and it was his inability to strike that was most conspicuous. There has been little of the desert heat or sunshine that dries out this Dubai surface, however, and though Misbah was undone by a ball that ripped from middle stump to beat his forward defence, such deliveries have been rare, even out of the footmarks. Saeed Ajmal's woes in the series help illustrate just how unhelpful pitches have been for slow bowlers.

"To me, it still looks like a good track to bat on," Herath said. "I think I bowled a good delivery, but apart from that I couldn't get much spin from this pitch. I didn't try anything different with that ball. I did the same thing, but there was something extra from the pitch on that occasion, I guess."

It would be glib to glance at the scorecard and suggest Sri Lanka's attack still verges on toothless. If there has been a theme to the series, it has been that bowlers have bowled well, but batsmen batted better - at least beyond the first innings of each match. It would be unfair to expect this Sri Lanka attack to blow away a batting side on a flat surface, given its inexperience and the paucity of supporting personnel. When the umpires ruled Sri Lanka could not continue with fast bowling because of deteriorating light, Kumar Sangakkara was their only choice for a comically inept over.

With rain forecast for large periods of Sunday, Sri Lanka cannot afford to be complacent as they seek to restrict the Pakistan lead to no more than 150. Having dominated the first seven sessions of this Test, a draw would disappoint almost as much as a loss, but in waiting Misbah out, Sri Lanka have shown they do not lack for persistence.

Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. He tweets here

RSS Feeds: Andrew Fidel Fernando

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by Sinhaya on (January 13, 2014, 17:38 GMT)

Sri Lanka definitely are the Kings of T20 cricket and have maintained the number 1 position for the longest period.

Posted by TharakaNilupul on (January 13, 2014, 6:16 GMT)

As all fan says, India is not the king of ODI and SA is not the king of Test cricket as well as SL is not king of the T20

Posted by VKohlitheGreat on (January 12, 2014, 9:20 GMT)

Okay we have some SL fans who do not care about IPL, I wish their players had the same opinion as theirs who are currently just doing the job of sitting in the dugout. About the comment on them not getting their share, I wonder how true is that but if it is, it only confirms that they are surely club level.

Posted by   on (January 12, 2014, 8:42 GMT)

i dont think srilanka deserve the t20 king spot.........

Posted by NextSana on (January 12, 2014, 8:38 GMT)

@VKohlitheGreat IPL is below par club level cricket with some club level Indian bowlers and flat track Indian batters who cares playing it or not.

Posted by lankanfan_indian on (January 12, 2014, 8:28 GMT)

Lankans are always a better team in T20.. yes, they are kings.. But in tests they are cats and seems in this they roared.. can't argue on that.. whether it be BBL, IPL, CPL, BPL without srilankan players it is not at all watchable.. I don't understand why watson is given chance instead of kaushal.. kaushal is a talent to be explored..

Posted by Bdthetiger on (January 12, 2014, 8:20 GMT)

@siddhartha87,in that case india is not a reall no 1 odi team.they're success rate probably lower than zim sience the r playing for 100 years.

Posted by   on (January 12, 2014, 8:12 GMT)

@VKholithegerat, who cares about IPL man???? If the players are doing their job as a team in international level, do we have to worry about what they are doing in a DOMESTIC league???? LOL. I'm sure neither do players if they are getting their share. LOL. Cricinfo please publish at least this one!!!!

Posted by VKohlitheGreat on (January 12, 2014, 7:46 GMT)

SL kings of T20, lol! I would be surprised if they make their way ahead after the league matches in the coming World Cup. Irony is that Pakistani cricketers (Specially bowlers), sadly, who we would love to have playing for different teams in IPL are not allowed to play and SL cricketers, inspite of being available and associated with different teams dont get a chance to make it to the playing XI because they are club level. (KJP for RR, TMD for MI, AM for PWI and KS for i guess SRH)

Posted by VKohlitheGreat on (January 12, 2014, 7:43 GMT)

SL kings of T20, lol! I would be surprised if they make their way ahead after the league matches. Irony is that Pakistani cricketers (Specially bowlers), sadly, who we would love to have playing for different teams in IPL are not allowed to play and SL cricketers, inspite of being available and associated with different teams dont get a chance to make it to the playing XI because they are club level. (KJP for RR, TMD for MI, AM for PWI and KS for i guess SRH)

Comments have now been closed for this article

TopTop
Email Feedback Print
Share
E-mail
Feedback
Print
Andrew Fidel FernandoClose
Tour Results
Pakistan v Sri Lanka at Sharjah - Jan 16-20, 2014
Pakistan won by 5 wickets
Pakistan v Sri Lanka at Dubai (DSC) - Jan 8-12, 2014
Sri Lanka won by 9 wickets
Pakistan v Sri Lanka at Abu Dhabi - Dec 31, 2013 - Jan 4, 2014
Match drawn
Pakistan v Sri Lanka at Abu Dhabi - Dec 27, 2013
Sri Lanka won by 2 wickets (with 2 balls remaining)
Pakistan v Sri Lanka at Abu Dhabi - Dec 25, 2013
Pakistan won by 8 wickets (with 53 balls remaining)
More results »
News | Features Last 3 days
News | Features Last 3 days