'Our best chance to beat SL at home' - Misbah
Pakistan might have been a dominant team in Sri Lanka before 2009, but in the last six years, they have enjoyed little success, having last won a series in the island nation in 2006. This is the first time since then that Pakistan have come close to registering a victory, with the series locked 1-1 ahead of the third and final Test. Misbah-ul-Haq, Pakistan's captain, felt his team had a big chance to create history since the hosts will be without both Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara for the final Test.
Misbah felt Pakistan had big chance to create history. "We have the best chance against Sri Lanka because they are without their big players like Mahela and Sanga," Misbah said. "I think we never will get such a chance to beat them here with a series locked at 1-1, as we've never come that close. So we are definitely wanting to win this. That is the only sense in the dressing room."
All the three Tests played at the Pallekele International Stadium thus far have been drawn, with rain affecting substantial chunks of play. Misbah, however, hoped to have five full days play so that Pakistan could force a result.
"We will definitely try to have a result as the way cricket is being played, it always gets you a result," he said. "But at the same time it's important to have play for all five days so that it gives you a full chance and allows you to produce a result. In the last two Test matches, we lost a lot of time in between five days and hopefully here in Pallekele, we will have a full five days play uninterrupted."
Pakistan's fine performance in the first Test in Galle was followed by a recurrence of their batting problems in the Colombo Test, where they lost 10 wickets in a day for 138.
"Everybody knows our batting didn't do well in the Colombo Test and still I am hoping they will come hard and score some runs. They are all experienced players and have been scoring runs from three to four series recently, so there isn't really a worry as each one of the batsmen have ample runs under the belt. Now we are just looking forward to improve our performance with the bat.
"What happened in Colombo (batting collapse) was a rare setback. In the last four to five series otherwise, if you look back, our batsmen have been scoring big runs against every team, even against the top sides. These kinds of things do happen sometimes, but hopefully the batsmen have realised their mistakes and learnt from them, and wont repeat them. "
While Pallekele is likely to affected by the weather over the next five days, the surface is generally seen as seam-friendly. Pakistan have drafted Rahat Ali into the side to replace the injured Wahab Riaz, but there are chances that Imran Khan might also get a game. Mohammad Hafeez, who will face an ICC test in India on July 6, is likely to be replaced by Shan Masood, who had a good outing in Sri Lanka with Pakistan A in May. He scored 182 against Sri Lanka A in Dambulla.
"We understand that the first two-three days are very well suited for the seamers but at the same time, we are lucky to have a legspinner (Yasir Shah) who is very effective in any kind of surface. We felt that in Pallekele, finger spinners are not that much effective and the legspinner is always going to have a role to play here, especially when you have a hard and bouncy pitch. So he is quite useful for us.
"I think every player here representing Pakistan is good enough to replace anybody. We are confident and have got good resources. But at the same time, Shan is there and he, with the Pakistan A team last month, had scored a big century. He might get a chance as he is good enough replacement, and also a good batsman who has been knocking well in the nets."
Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent. @kalson