Sri Lanka v Pakistan, 2nd Test, SSC, Colombo

Misbah returns with Pakistan's unbeaten run at stake

The Preview by Abhishek Purohit

June 29, 2012

Comments: 60 | Text size: A | A

Match facts

June 30-July 4, Colombo
Start time 1000 (0430 GMT)


Younis Khan shapes to play the reverse-sweep, Sri Lanka v Pakistan, 1st Test, Galle, 4th day, June 25, 2012
Younis Khan: Spinning? I'll sweep 'em away © AFP
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Big Picture

A team that has not won any of its previous eight Test series, following the retirement of its greatest bowler, against a team that has been unbeaten in its previous seven. No contest? Recent history suggested so but current form prevailed in the first Test. Like they had in the ODIs, Pakistan's batsmen proved brittle again, against Nuwan Kulasekara and Rangana Herath, and against umpires Steve Davis and Ian Gould. Would Pakistan have imploded had Sri Lanka's top-order batsmen not been reprieved by the umpires in the first innings?

What we do know is that Pakistan missed their captain Misbah-ul-Haq, who was banned from the Galle Test because of an over-rate offence during the fifth ODI. Going into the first Test of an away series - already without a warm-up game - without your captain, can be disastrous. When that captain is Misbah, and when that side is Pakistan, the absence seems magnified.

Not only have Pakistan won five, drawn two and lost zero series under Misbah, but he has also averaged 64.72 with the bat during that period. Reviled for his poor strike-rate, Misbah possesses what the thrill-a-minute dashers don't - calmness. During Sri Lanka's second innings in Galle, when another umpiring error denied Pakistan the wicket of Prasanna Jayawardene, Misbah's reaction in the dressing room was telling. He put his index finger up in a mock 'out' signal and smiled broadly, managing to hide all the disappointment and anger within.

Like a general who knows what makes his troops tick, Misbah goads Pakistan in the right direction, and keeps potential irritants at bay. He has squeezed consistency out of unpredictability. Such is his lot, though, that he gets brickbats from fans for taking the thrills of volatility away. Volatility was on display in Galle, and led to Pakistan's heaviest defeat to Sri Lanka in terms of runs.

The new ball was Pakistan's problem in Galle, while bowling and batting. Their quicks could not get it to do much, and their batsmen could not survive when Kulasekara got it to move. There is much quality in both spin attacks, and both dominated in Galle.

Sri Lanka did what winning sides usually do in the subcontinent, they batted big in the first innings, struck early with the new ball, and let the spinners take over. They will look to repeat the dose in Colombo.

Form guide


Sri Lanka WLWLW (Most recent first)
Pakistan LWWWW

Watch out for...

Younis Khan batted 304 deliveries in the first Test. Pakistan collectively lasted 327 deliveries in the first innings there. He was dropped for the final ODI, but showed in Galle why he is easily Pakistan's most important Test batsman. In a match dominated by spinners, Younis hardly looked like getting out to them, playing straight with bat firmly in front of pad and sweeping often. He fell to the umpires in the first innings and to the second new ball in the second.

Much has been said about Nuwan Kulasekara's Test record against Pakistan, and it is worth repeating. In five Tests against them, he has taken 25 wickets at 16.40. His record against other teams - two wickets at 121.50 against India, three wickets at 50.00 against New Zealand and no wickets in two Tests against England. It is the swing and seam movement; can Pakistan find a way to deal with it?

Pitch and conditions

The pitch at the Sinhalese Sports Club Ground is expected to be good for batting. That is like saying rain is expected during Wimbledon. Almost every third game at the ground has been drawn. Consider the previous two games played here. Last year, Australia made 316 and 488. Sri Lanka made 473. In 2010, Sri Lanka declared their first innings on 642 for 4 only to watch India pile on 707. If Pakistan crumble at the SSC, even Misbah might not be able to hide his anger.

The weather has been warm and humid. There was a brief shower yesterday, and scattered thunderstorms are forecast on all five days of the Test.

Team news

Sri Lanka's only headache is the choice of the new-ball partner for Kulasekara. Nuwan Pradeep was quick and sharp in Galle but is prone to breakdowns. The problem is that the possible replacement, Dilhara Fernando, is more prone to them. Will they go for the much slower allrounder, Thisara Perera, instead?

Sri Lanka (probable) 1 Tillakaratne Dilshan, 2 Tharanga Paranavitana, 3 Mahela Jayawardene (capt), 4 Kumar Sangakkara, 5 Thilan Samaraweera, 6 Angelo Mathews, 7 Prasanna Jayawardene (wk), 8 Nuwan Kulasekara, 9 Suraj Randiv, 10 Rangana Herath, 11 Nuwan Pradeep/Dilhara Fernando.

Misbah will return for Pakistan, meaning that Mohammad Ayub, who did not do badly at all in his debut Test in Galle, is most likely to sit out. Junaid Khan looked flat on his comeback from injury in the first innings in Galle before responding with an energetic burst in the second. Will Pakistan go with either of Aizaz Cheema or Mohammad Sami in place of Junaid?

Pakistan (probable) 1 Taufeeq Umar, 2 Mohammad Hafeez, 3 Azhar Ali, 4 Younis Khan, 5 Misbah-ul-Haq (capt), 6 Asad Shafiq, 7 Adnan Akmal (wk), 8 Abdur Rehman, 9 Saeed Ajmal, 10 Umar Gul, 11 Junaid Khan/Aizaz Cheema/Mohammad Sami

Stats and trivia

  • Four of the previous six Tests at the SSC have been drawn.
  • There have been three centuries by Pakistan batsmen at the SSC; two of them by Shoaib Malik.
  • Pakistan have never lost to Sri Lanka at the SSC.

Quotes

"We let them score nearly 500 and that put pressure on us. It's not just our batting, but we need to improve our bowling as well."
Misbah-ul-Haq says Pakistan's batsmen were not the only ones at fault in Galle

"We are trying to develop a bowling attack that will hunt in a pack. We don't yet have the experience of a Murali or a Vaas."
Mahela Jayawardene asks for more patience with Sri Lanka's bowlers

Abhishek Purohit is an editorial assistant at ESPNcricinfo

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by serious-am-i on (June 30, 2012, 15:03 GMT)

@Naveed85: India have won twice in South Africa, remember the match sreesanth took 5 wickets & they won a test when they last toured as well, series was shared 1-1. SL never won a test match in India as well. We have won tests in England, 1 was under Dravid's captaincy when we won 1-0, we have won series in the pasts & won tests even under Dada's captaincy. Please check your facts before accusations.

Posted by truthhh on (June 30, 2012, 4:10 GMT)

@Ameega,yep man i remember that india lost 0-4 to ENG&0-4 to AUS But i can not remember any match that srilanka lost 0-4 to anyteam at overseas:)

Posted by   on (June 30, 2012, 4:05 GMT)

Mr gould and davies you people are the jewels ,please do decide this game in two day ,you know how to do it better ,.

Posted by MasudRUETeee091040 on (June 30, 2012, 4:02 GMT)

After returning Misbah, Pakistan batting line will be strong.

Posted by Sinhaya on (June 30, 2012, 4:00 GMT)

@Naveed85, Sri Lanka have won 6 tests in Pakistan, 2 in NZ and 2 in England. Please check the facts please. Forgot how we won 2-1 in Pakistan in 1995 and 2000? We are a very good side and that was why we have won one test in South Africa. Pakistan have only won 2 tests in South Africa.

Posted by   on (June 30, 2012, 3:50 GMT)

Much slower allrounder? Abhishek, at least in the CB series in Aus, Perera was hitting the 140 mark on a regular basis. It's more the fact that he can get a bit wayward at times. Sri Lanka produce a lot of pacemen, but not a lot of them are any good. Kula is good, but he can't do it all alone.

Posted by Naveed85 on (June 30, 2012, 3:28 GMT)

pakistan can win if there is a fair game..its not easy to play against 13 players. between there is no doubt srilanka are good team at home and poor away never won a test match in Australia, India only one test win in south africa, england, west indies and a couple in pakistan, nzl

Posted by   on (June 30, 2012, 3:18 GMT)

In TEST cricket, DRS is very important. Only one wrong decision turns the result of match.............

Posted by MichaelBurton on (June 30, 2012, 2:27 GMT)

@Farrukh.91.: Whats the use of DRS even umpires if the player can decide himself out or not as you said about Younis's out in the second inning....lol.

see the cricinfo comments: 80.5 Kulasekara to Younis Khan, OUT, and the new ball has struck first over, Kula is the man again, bowled straight, back of a length outside off, Younis pushing out from the crease, clear sound of a nick as it moves away slightly, through to the keeper, Younis hangs around for a bit and walks back in disappointment

Posted by just_chill_chill on (June 30, 2012, 1:16 GMT)

Pakistan's unbeaten run? Oh for God's sake. They win a match or two here and there, and it becomes unbeaten run? They don't even know how to even hold a cricket bat properly. 8 down for 32 runs recently is an example. You don't end up ranked at the bottom of every possible rankings for nothing. Unbeaten run my foot.

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