1st Test, Abu Dhabi

Sri Lanka v Pakistan, 2013-14

At Abu Dhabi, December 31, 2013-January 4, 2014. Drawn. Toss: Pakistan. Test debuts: Ahmed Shehzad, Bilawal Bhatti; S. M. S. M. Senanayake.
Sri Lanka showed great resilience to bat through the fourth day and escape with a draw. Bilawal Bhatti, a fiery fast bowler on Test debut, had removed the big beasts Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene on the third evening and, by the close, Sri Lanka were four wickets down and leading by only seven. The game could easily have been over with a day to spare. But, 24 hours later, it was Pakistan who were under the pump: they had lost wicketkeeper Adnan Akmal to a broken finger, and Sri Lanka had lost only one wicket all day. When Pakistan finally emerged for the run-chase on the fifth morning, they cut their losses and batted out time.

Both sides named six players with fewer than 15 Test caps; Sri Lanka made four changes from their last Test, eight months earlier in Colombo. Kaushal Silva was brought back as a specialist opener in place of the retired Tillekeratne Dilshan; four wicketkeepers in the side did little for Sri Lanka's fill-in bowling. The first to be exposed, though, was their batting, as Misbah-ul-Haq put them in on a green but placid surface. They lost only one wicket in the first session, but seven in a disastrous passage after lunch. Jayawardene, who missed the limited-overs leg to attend the birth of his child, nicked a rising beauty from Bhatti, only to be saved on replay when it emerged the bowler had overstepped; next ball, Bhatti fired in a legitimate yorker, and Jayawardene edged that one too. Junaid Khan led the line to pick up his fourth Test five-for - all against Sri Lanka. Mathews, sensing the way things were heading after Sangakkara drove loosely to point, figured that boundaries were the only way to salvage the innings, and managed to scrape together 61 for the ninth wicket with Eranga.

From the uncertainty of 83 for three before lunch on New Year's Day (this was the first Test to span two calendar years since 1984-85), Younis Khan and Misbah batted with authority in a four-hour stand of 218. Younis eventually chopped on to the second new ball, but not before he had equalled Javed Miandad's mark of 23 Test centuries for Pakistan. Misbah was having few problems carrying his form into 2014, and made the most of Sri Lanka's sloppiness: Jayawardene should have caught him darting behind the keeper from slip on 69, and Lakmal lacked the confidence to review an lbw shout seven runs later. Misbah was last out as Sri Lanka swept up the final six wickets next morning; the last seven had fallen for 82.

Silva and Sangakkara, in a stand of 99, began to claw Sri Lanka back into the match. Then, soon after the last drinks break of the evening, Younis took a smart low catch to remove Sangakkara and, first ball, Jayawardene was squared up, edging Bhatti for the third delivery in a row. Silva followed to the final ball of the day; the downside was that Akmal fractured his left index finger taking the catch, so Younis stood behind the stumps for the rest of the innings.

For a team that had too often relied on Sangakkara and Jayawardene, the 138 now put on by Chandimal and Mathews felt significant. Sri Lanka calmly added 234 in the day's 86.5 overs, of which their captain contributed 116. Those two, plus Prasanna Jayawardene, tamed Saeed Ajmal, a master in these conditions, to the extent that he bowled an unprecedented 49 overs without a wicket. Mathews' show of defiance pulled Sri Lanka out of danger, and allowed him to declare 25 minutes before lunch, with the lead past 300. Pakistan, however, had no intention of going 1-0 down in a three-match series.

Mohammad Hafeez made the most of his limited-overs form to score his first Test fifty since July 2012 - without quite staving off the critics who felt him unsuited to No. 3. In normal circumstances, Herath might have proved a handful, but the pitch refused to break up.
Man of the Match: A. D. Mathews.

© John Wisden & Co.