Pakistan v Sri Lanka, 3rd Test, Sharjah, 2nd day January 17, 2014

Talha, Junaid shine on dull day

For the second successive day, Pakistan's bowlers struggled on a flat pitch. The team, however, could take heart from the success of their pacers, Mohammad Talha and Junaid Khan

Pakistan bowlers may have started the second day optimistic about their chances of ending Sri Lanka's resistance but had little success as the visitors reached an imposing 428 for 9. While Pakistan's bowlers contained the Sri Lanka batsmen well - conceding only 208 runs in the day - they could grab wickets only after the batting side had managed to build themselves into a position of strength. However, there were positives for Pakistan on the second day, specially the bowling of pacers Mohammad Talha and Junaid Khan.

Talha, bowling in only his second Test after a gap of nearly five years, provided the much-needed breakthroughs on both days and finished with figures of 3 for 99 in 32 overs. He is one of the fastest bowlers in Pakistan's domestic cricket circuit, but was pushed back with the emergence of Mohammad Amir and Junaid Khan. Talha remained on the periphery of national selection for a long time and was left out for the squad for the first two Tests, but his performance showed an eagerness to make the best of an opportunity that came out of the blue.

On an unresponsive surface, Talha experimented a tad too much but though he was short of length, his patience was rewarded with the vital scalps of Prasanna Jayawardene (35) and debutant Dilruwan Perera (95). Junaid, at the other end, charged in throughout the day and was tidy, although he did not get too much movement with the ball. Junaid was Pakistan's most successful bowler, taking 3 for 81 at an economy rate of 2.53.

Saeed Ajmal, on the other hand, struggled again. He had picked up two wickets on the first day, but the Sri Lanka batsmen tackled him sensibly on the second and scored more fluently off him. He was wicketless throughout the day and was left cursing a pitch that did not offer much help. He finished the innings with 2 for 120 in 55 overs. Prior to the Sharjah Test, Ajmal had called for more supportive pitches but as Pakistan's strike bowler, he is expected to take wickets irrespective of conditions.

Like the first day, Pakistan also had a few issues surrounding umpiring decisions, as many reviews ended up in Sri Lanka's favour. Had those decisions been in their favour, Pakistan could possibly have restricted Sri Lanka before the tea break. It may not have made an overwhelming difference but it was better than nothing on a day when the team struggled.

"This is what Test cricket is," Junaid said, after an unproductive day. "We tried hard to extract the best out of the day, but it was a flat pitch. The way the batsmen have batted in last two days, there is nothing much for the bowlers."

Given the current match situation, the onus is on Pakistan's batsmen to show composure in their innings and Junaid was optimistic about the team's chances in the match: "The way pitch is acting, our batsmen can push hard tomorrow to make quick runs to turn the pressure back on Sri Lanka. We are hoping the pitch can do a bit later in the match."

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Hey on January 18, 2014, 16:56 GMT

    I hate the fact that Junaid gets hate for not being as good as Amir, sorry talented. In fact, Junaid is far better...Cricket is a gentleman's game and if one cannot be a gentleman, they'll never be good. This is why Junaid is better, he is much harder working than Amir and he's just as good, it's only cos he doesn't resemble the great Akram. On the contrary, Amir amd Asif were like Steyn and Phil currently...

  • Android on January 18, 2014, 10:33 GMT

    future of pakistan junaid

  • Dummy4 on January 18, 2014, 9:19 GMT

    I think bowling resources are ok. They looked off colour in this series but thats rare. Picking up right combination can work for them. Guys like irfan, junaid, talha, anwar ali are good prospects for future. Its batting that is still not in order.

    Having said that, i think bowling coach is not doing too good. we did see no difference in bhatti from 1st test to 2nd test. Should work with these young guys.

  • sushant on January 18, 2014, 0:53 GMT

    Really shameful display by SriLanka.......I am an Indian and watching yesterday play just bored me.......Pathetic captain Matthews and all the others were pathetic.......this so much negative attitude will bring there downfall, maybe not in this series but in Bangladesh and Asia cup.......and we all know that they will be thrashed in England Due to this negative cricket others such as Aus, Eng, NZ & India does not call them to play 3 test series.......because they know the negativity will be more than enough for 2 tests

  • Allan on January 18, 2014, 0:08 GMT

    Another flat wicket and another boring match with run scoring (by SL) at a snails pace. And we expect test cricket to flourish? The completely empty stadiums are a disgrace! Also, can't understand Ajmal asking for spin wicket when Pak has great pace attack. Is he planning to win the match single handed? I know he's funny, but that's a bit too funny. What is need is good bounce with a bit lateral movement for both pace & spin to examine the batsmen. Is that too much to ask??

  • F on January 17, 2014, 18:34 GMT

    I this SL has done well and on the safe side. It is Pak who should worry for their batting pusillanimity going forward .

    Again it is Misbah in his own shell, not reading the game well and always staying in defensive mode.

    As for the new no FTP, I see a big divide coming between rich and poor cricket boards.

  • Android on January 17, 2014, 18:33 GMT

    Irfan, Junaid, Amir and Talha are the future of Pakistan. We would do well to manage their work load better.

  • Josh on January 17, 2014, 18:31 GMT

    The only thing that shined today was the ball, but definitely not the bowlers. Not even one 'bowled' or "LBW" decision went in favour of the bowlers and you want to say that Junaid and Talha shone? Come on; they may have been shining the ball a lot on their trousers and you have mistaken that for good bowling. Utter nonsense.

  • Wajahat on January 17, 2014, 18:04 GMT

    Pakistan needs to score at minimum 4 rpo and bat for Day 3 and entire Day 4 to make a match or win out of this. Else, it is either a boring draw or a win for SL.

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