Pakistan v Sri Lanka, 3rd Test, Sharjah, 4th day January 19, 2014

Test 'nicely poised' - Whatmore

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Pakistan didn't go into the fourth day thinking of a win but, after their bowlers picked up late wickets, the contest remains open to the possibility of a twist on the final day of an otherwise slow Test. After losing the toss, Pakistan had seemingly accepted that forcing the win they need to draw the series was a distant possibility but their coach, Dav Whatmore, has not given up on getting a result.

Trailing 1-0 in the series and having played conservatively throughout the match, Pakistan find themselves 220 behind and needing five more second-innings wickets to set up a run chase. Sri Lanka, having done as much as possible to slow the game down in pursuit of a draw, crawled to 133 for 5 in 71 overs, as Mohammad Talha provided a spark for the hosts.

"The game is nicely poised going in to the last day," Whatmore said. "It will be a very interesting fifth day. We just need five more wickets quickly so I think it will be a very important first hour and we take it from there as it goes along.

"We really expect to continue to create chances. You can't win a Test match in a session so you need to continue to chip away at them and when the chances come, take them. It is still pretty much a flat wicket, except for the footmarks. Other than that, it just hasn't broken up. If it pitches in an area where the footmarks are it has become a little bit tricky, but other than that it is just a very flat wicket which is playing a bit slower now."

Pakistan lost their way in the first session, their remaining four wickets falling inside 15 overs to trail by 87 runs. Misbah-ul-Haq tried to whittle down the deficit in his familiar, steady fashion but there were questions as to whether Pakistan could have pushed harder for quick runs earlier in the game, to put pressure on Sri Lanka.

When asked, however, Whatmore was clear about his team's desire for victory. "Every game we play we try to win, so we will go all out to get the best we can to achieve the result," he said.

Saeed Ajmal's struggles continued, although he found the right length to bowl in the evening session, picking up the wicket of Mahela Jayawardene. Ajmal has so far taken eight wickets at 50.50 in the series but Whatmore defended his star bowler. "If you have seen the first two Test matches you will know the wickets have not favoured the spin bowlers," Whatmore said. "Ajmal is still a world-class performer. All world-class performers need a little bit of encouragement from the wicket and we haven't had that."

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • wapuser on January 20, 2014, 14:30 GMT

    Great day to be a Pakistani cricket fan. We struggle to 300 at the best of times,to get iron 2 sessions in a TEST match is Unbeleivable.

  • ak_dragon on January 20, 2014, 5:54 GMT

    Misbah should step down now....Its disgrace the way he is playing for Pakistan..same negative & defensive approach cost them a fortune.

  • rshan on January 20, 2014, 5:38 GMT

    Going for shots at this Sharjah 5th day wicket is suicide. Even if Sri Lanka is bundled out with a lead of 250, chasing would be very difficult on this wicket. On 4th day, yesterday, 9 wickets have fallen of which six were top order batsmen. I would like to see it happen and to watch if Pakistan would take up the challenge and if not bothered of losing the match where their ICC ranking is at stake. If they win, it will be remarkable, and could the say that Sri Lanka had paid a heavy price for been negative. If not, that will shut the mouth pieces of all those arm chair critics that have been critical of Sri Lanka for their approach that they had adopted so far.

  • dummy4fb on January 20, 2014, 2:44 GMT

    Pakistan's batting is too unpredictable. One day they can bat like the best in the world; the very next day they can lose several wickets in a hurry. Maybe its best that Sri Lanka keeps on scoring at a rate of .000001 per over. That might save Pakistan as this team has a tendency to collapse against quite ordinary bowling even. Except Misbah, everyone else will have a brain freeze and just throw their wicket away in a hurry. This is the most unpredictable side on the planet.

  • cdublew on January 19, 2014, 21:53 GMT

    Mr Whatmore must believe that Pakistan still has a chance and that Ajmal has not performed as expected because of the wicket. However to the unbiased cricket fan the Sri Lankan batsman have played Ajmal admirably and SL are still in the driving seat as far as the result is concerned.

  • dummy4fb on January 19, 2014, 21:29 GMT

    i understand that this is last match of Dav whatmore as a coach for Pakistan and his part above neck is out place now. I hope that Pakistan lose this series and some how we get rid of misbah and whatmore together and build a good team for WC 2015 under shahid afridi.

    Wish you best of luck Sri Lanka to win. PCB just fire Misbah and co. Please.

  • avmd on January 19, 2014, 21:22 GMT

    If Pakistan had any desire to win the match, they should have showed with their batting on third day, which they didn't. Now its too late, no chance. Had to pay price for the negative mindset, which is trade mark for Misbah.

  • dummy4fb on January 19, 2014, 20:53 GMT

    Smart cricket from SL, they have nothig to lose. The onus is on PK. This is what test is all about. PATIENCE. DISCIPLINE, GRIT. And SL have truely showed all of that in abundance in this series

  • FSL2013 on January 19, 2014, 20:35 GMT

    To Pakistan , it shouldn't matter if its 1-0 or 2-0. They should have come out with aggressive mind set on day one. I just dont see killer instincts in this team. May be with Amir, Irfan, Gul it would have been a different story. Pakistan has been heavily depending on Ajmal and unfortunately he didn't click this series. If Pakistan dismisses SL in morning session I would love to see Shahzad in action again. Chance for him to go for another century!!

  • dummy4fb on January 19, 2014, 20:17 GMT

    Whatmore is such a great leader. He did wonders for a young Bangladesh side. It will be sad to see him leave the Pakistan side soon, even though he has had a lack lustre term with them. Some teams are more difficult to manage than others. Wonder who will replace him at Pakistan's helm?

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