Shehzad unhappy with Sri Lanka's 'negative' approach
Pakistan might have been conservative with their batting approach on the third day in Sharjah, but their opener Ahmed Shehzad said he was "surprised" by the negative approach adopted by the Sri Lanka bowlers. He stated that the opposition got "afraid" and looked insecure despite having a hefty total on the board.
"I was surprised with their negative approach," Shehzad said. "Although they had 400-plus runs on the board, they had packed the leg side. But yes there are some captains who are aggressive and then there are some who are defensive."
Almost throughout the day, Sri Lanka had six fielders on the leg side, letting Pakistan score only 23 runs in the first hour of play.
Pakistan still trail by 137 runs with four wickets in hand after what was a lengthy and toiling day for scoring runs. They might have shelved their plan to maintain a run rate of around three but still have a lot to do to think of a win. They crawled for most parts of the day and played with caution in the first two sessions but the final session saw fearless attacking as they piled up 122 runs in 31.3 overs.
"It's Test cricket," Shehzad said when asked about what took him so long to play his natural game. "Whatever the conditions are, you have to play according to that. We were just playing normal cricket, that's it. To build any kind of score it's very important to negotiate the new ball and do well with that. So that was our first plan and to score some runs as well, so yes we did well."
Pakistan lost four of their batsmen to edges behind the stumps. Azhar Ali took a bizarre review, even though he had edged a ball to slips, only to be struck down and Pakistan continued to struggle with their calls on DRS as day three saw all their reviews being unsuccessful.
Sri Lanka are already up 1-0 in the series and they adopted a safety-first approach. Rangana Herath frustrated the batsmen by bowling outside the leg stump with Shehzad facing 85 balls against him and scoring 37 from them. He negotiated well during his hundred but lost his patience and played an unorthodox reverse sweep to edge the ball onto his stumps.
"It was a tough time [in the end], I was trying to accelerate when my wicket fell," Shehzad said. "I was set and was seeing the ball well and tried to keep the scoreboard going, my wicket fell at a very difficult time. I think I should have stayed and scored more runs for the team. Had I not been dismissed, we would not have lost three wickets at a time which is difficult for any batsman.
"We had to move the scoreboard, we had no other choice. We had lost one match, it's a do-or-die match for us. But they can't bowl us out with negative bowling in a proper Test match, it's not possible. They were afraid after lunch that we would go after their bowling."
Along with the acceleration, Pakistan lost four wickets in the final session. Shehzad said he was not very optimistic about the result of the match. "The captain is playing and I hope he knows better than me," he said. "I think we should play two more sessions and equal their score, that's the present target. I think we will play normal cricket and we will try to come back into the match and then go for a result."
Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent. He tweets here