Pakistan v Sri Lanka, 2nd Test, Dubai, 4th day January 11, 2014

T20 kings show Test aptitude

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • 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.

  • SL_Wolverine 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

  • 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.

  • on January 12, 2014, 8:42 GMT

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

  • 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.

  • 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..

  • Bdcricketdebator 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.

  • 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!!!!

  • 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)

  • 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)

  • 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.

  • SL_Wolverine 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

  • 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.

  • on January 12, 2014, 8:42 GMT

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

  • 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.

  • 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..

  • Bdcricketdebator 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.

  • 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!!!!

  • 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)

  • 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)

  • Harmony111 on January 12, 2014, 6:52 GMT

    @Uppercut07:

    Guess who lost 1-2 to SA IN SL barely 5 months back?

  • TharinduHettigoda on January 12, 2014, 6:00 GMT

    Named Number one T20 side in the world as T20 kings and all haters lost their mind, lol. At least try to take away T20 #1 Place from Sri Lanka and then We'll talk about calling Sri Lanka as T20 KINGS... -_-

  • Uppercut07 on January 12, 2014, 5:14 GMT

    @all the Haters, name the LAST time SL lost a T20 series HOME or AWAY!

  • Harmony111 on January 12, 2014, 5:01 GMT

    SL are T20 kings? What have they won? They can't even chase 138 runs at home to win a WT20 title. How can one call SL T20 kings then?

  • siddhartha87 on January 12, 2014, 4:54 GMT

    SRi Lanka is a very balanced t20 side no doubt about that but they cannot be termed as kings .They are the 3rd most successful team in t20I history with a success rate of 60.52 %. Soth Africa is at the top with 62.9% while Pakistan is at at second with 61.23 %

  • Uppercut07 on January 12, 2014, 4:50 GMT

    SL is probably the ONLY team to be in the NO.1 T20 rank for this long. If anything s a joke it shud be FTBs NO.2 ranking in Test cricket after failing to win a single test overseas.

  • on January 12, 2014, 3:45 GMT

    Srilanka has shown consistency and definitely deserve the top spot for the t20 rankings. They might be kings for now, but Pakistan has always been a wildcard capable of anything.

    I hope rain does not spoil this test. I know if Pakistan can make around 160, the bowlers are more than capable of defending it.

  • SL_Wolverine on January 12, 2014, 2:44 GMT

    if it is not the king of T20. How SL become 1st in T20 ranking for two years?

  • Zahidsaltin on January 11, 2014, 23:59 GMT

    I'm a pakistani but I do not wish rain on the 5th day. The deserving team must win. But I hope that Sarfraz can bat on and build the lead to 200.

  • Herath-UK on January 11, 2014, 22:30 GMT

    There will be many imposters claiming to be T20 kings out of desperation. However to remain on top of the T20 league for over a year with many challengers falling by the wayside,what an achievement by the SLTeam.

  • on January 11, 2014, 22:24 GMT

    SL a T20 King??? U must be kidding Right???

  • on January 11, 2014, 20:51 GMT

    l hope Pakistan save the match

  • on January 11, 2014, 20:28 GMT

    Sri Lankan's are the kings of T20 not bloody Pakistan or West Indies. Well done Little Lankan's Keep the spirit of the team all the best.

  • fadjaz on January 11, 2014, 20:10 GMT

    T20 kings... what a joke...

  • Uppercut07 on January 11, 2014, 19:54 GMT

    SL is the LONGEST reigning NO.1 ranked T20 team since all the way from 2012!,Can't remember the last time SL lost a T20 series since 2012

  • on January 11, 2014, 18:42 GMT

    @NOMI & Shahzan - Sri Lanka has the best & balanced T20 side in the world. All are know that. You are talking about T20 finals. Yes they lost WC finals twice. But they have won lot of WC matches in SL & also abroad. And also they have beat Pakistan in semis in T20 WC 2012. Can you remember SL have won with Pakistan in the final traingular series in canada. Let we look what will happen in 2014WC....

  • on January 11, 2014, 18:21 GMT

    N-O-M-I - Really? WI I can understand with their big hitting, but Pak is better than SL? And what do you mean just talking about rankings? We've been No. 1 for about 2 years now. That's consistency for you. Not an accident. SA is No. 1 test team and I don't hear anybody questioning that. And nobody should, because they are No. 1, in the same way that SL is No 1 in T20.

  • Shahzan-BFK-Kohat on January 11, 2014, 18:13 GMT

    SL are not T20 kings. They have lost many T20 finals and have never won a single one and are ranked lower than other better teams!!!

  • PK-KID on January 11, 2014, 18:03 GMT

    Pak and Wi are t20 kings not Sl,ya just talking abt rankings,look at overall t20 team Performances in WC

  • on January 11, 2014, 17:10 GMT

    I must say our fast bowling unit has improved leaps and bounds.Keep it up guys!

  • zarasochozarasamjho on January 11, 2014, 16:59 GMT

    As a Pakistani supporter, I viewed SL's pace attack as the weak link within their team. I would not say that after the first 2 tests. I know Pakistan batting is weak (sorry for stating the obvious) but to continue to bowl well in spite of low rewards proves the skills, and tenacity of the pace attack. The captain must be commended for this too. SL can build up a strong test side. Pakistan is still facing an uphill battle; only rain can save them but that would be unfair on SL and I, for one, would not want that.

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  • zarasochozarasamjho on January 11, 2014, 16:59 GMT

    As a Pakistani supporter, I viewed SL's pace attack as the weak link within their team. I would not say that after the first 2 tests. I know Pakistan batting is weak (sorry for stating the obvious) but to continue to bowl well in spite of low rewards proves the skills, and tenacity of the pace attack. The captain must be commended for this too. SL can build up a strong test side. Pakistan is still facing an uphill battle; only rain can save them but that would be unfair on SL and I, for one, would not want that.

  • on January 11, 2014, 17:10 GMT

    I must say our fast bowling unit has improved leaps and bounds.Keep it up guys!

  • PK-KID on January 11, 2014, 18:03 GMT

    Pak and Wi are t20 kings not Sl,ya just talking abt rankings,look at overall t20 team Performances in WC

  • Shahzan-BFK-Kohat on January 11, 2014, 18:13 GMT

    SL are not T20 kings. They have lost many T20 finals and have never won a single one and are ranked lower than other better teams!!!

  • on January 11, 2014, 18:21 GMT

    N-O-M-I - Really? WI I can understand with their big hitting, but Pak is better than SL? And what do you mean just talking about rankings? We've been No. 1 for about 2 years now. That's consistency for you. Not an accident. SA is No. 1 test team and I don't hear anybody questioning that. And nobody should, because they are No. 1, in the same way that SL is No 1 in T20.

  • on January 11, 2014, 18:42 GMT

    @NOMI & Shahzan - Sri Lanka has the best & balanced T20 side in the world. All are know that. You are talking about T20 finals. Yes they lost WC finals twice. But they have won lot of WC matches in SL & also abroad. And also they have beat Pakistan in semis in T20 WC 2012. Can you remember SL have won with Pakistan in the final traingular series in canada. Let we look what will happen in 2014WC....

  • Uppercut07 on January 11, 2014, 19:54 GMT

    SL is the LONGEST reigning NO.1 ranked T20 team since all the way from 2012!,Can't remember the last time SL lost a T20 series since 2012

  • fadjaz on January 11, 2014, 20:10 GMT

    T20 kings... what a joke...

  • on January 11, 2014, 20:28 GMT

    Sri Lankan's are the kings of T20 not bloody Pakistan or West Indies. Well done Little Lankan's Keep the spirit of the team all the best.

  • on January 11, 2014, 20:51 GMT

    l hope Pakistan save the match