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Pakistan-Sri Lanka Test series

As the visitors register their easy win in the one-day series, and the Pakistan-Sri Lanka Test series take off, it is worthwhile to have a look at the history of encounters between the two rivals. Even a cursory glance at the past results should suffice to show that Pakistan has maintained the upper hand. The home team has dominated the Test rubbers played in Pakistan. In all Sri Lanka-Pakistan have so far contested 21 Test matches. Pakistan have to their credit ten wins as compared to the three achieved by the Sri Lankans.

Bandula Warnapura was leading the side that came here in 1981-82 when Pakistan's cricket was gripped by controversies. No less than nine prominent cricketers had refused to play under Javed Miandad. The Board didn't select any of the 'rebels' in the first two Tests; instead they fielded a raw side.

Saleem Malik greeted the Sri Lankans with a century on his Test debut at Karachi's National Stadium. Tahir Naqqash, Rashid Khan and Saleem Yousuf also made their mark against the tourists. The side, though packed with youngsters, made short work of the final. In Pakistan's first innings Haroon Rasheed on his return to Test cricket after nearly two years, opened his account with a pulled six and went on to bat for five and a quarter hours for his Test-best 153, that included 16 boundaries and three huge sixes. The lack of experience in five-day cricket by Sri Lankan batsmen was obvious as they were bowled for 149 in three hours in their second innings. But the tables were almost turned in the next Test. Stand-in skipper Duleep Mendis had the home side struggling in the second Test in Faisalabad. Pakistan averted the follow-on by the skin of their teeth. Then on the final afternoon, they had to battle it out grimly for saving the match. Sidath Wettimuny 157 (24 4s), earning the distinction of scoring the country's first century. With Roy Dias (98) and Ranjan Madugalle (91*) not far behind, the tourists reached 454. Spinner Iqbal Qasim became the fifth Pakistani to reach hundred Test wickets during his marathon 6-141 of 66 overs. It was only through a last wicket stand of 48 runs that Pakistan avoided the dreaded follow-on. A declaration by Mendis on the last day was backed up by leg-spinner Somachandra de Silva (5-59) who threatened to run through the home team, only to be denied by another resolute batting effort of the opposition tail-enders.

The star-turned-rebels were, however, back in the Pakistan side in the third and final Test in Lahore. The Sri Lankans had no answer to the fiery pace of Imran Khan, arguably the most lethal fast bowler on the scene. Zaheer Abbas, an excellent batsman posted an enterprising hundred at Gaddafi Stadium, denying the visitors a chance of making inroads into the Pakistan batting as they did in Faisalabad. Sri Lanka scored 240 that included a gem of a hundred from Roy Dias but Pakistan destroyed the inexperienced opposition attack to amass 500-6. Apart from a long waited maiden century from Mohsin Khan a fluent 134 off 148 balls by Zaheer Abbas was the highlight.

Four seasons later the Sri Lankans came to Pakistan under the captaincy of Duleep Mendis, a hard-hitting right-handed batsman. The visitors were blasted in Sialkot and Karachi. They managed an honourable draw on the batting paradise of Iqbal Stadium, Faisalabad. Thus for the second time running, they drew a Test in Faisalabad. Although Sri Lanka were humiliated in the 1985-86 series here, they discovered Aravinda de Silva. The perky right-hander won great admiration by notching two magnificent hundreds in three Tests. He was a picture of confidence all the time and particularly severe on Imran Khan, hauling him for sixes quite regularly. Ravi Ratnayeke may never forget the Sialkot Test. Maintaining nagging line and length; he ripped through Pakistan's batting line-up claiming as many as eight wickets in the first innings. Until Muralitharan's nine wicket haul against England in 1998 Oval Test that was the best bowling ever by a Sri Lankan in Test innings. Sri Lanka, however, lost the Sialkot Test. Sri Lanka's second Test series in Pakistan began with a high-scoring and meaningless draw on a typically dead Iqbal Stadium pitch, 1034 runs being scored for the loss of just 13 wickets. The captains agreed to abandon the game when Qasim Umar was dismissed soon after tea on the last day. Pakistan's captain and Hanif Mohammad (Chairman of selectors) close an old pitch in preference to a more lively relaid one.

Aravinda de Silva's maiden Test hundred was completed a day after his 20th birthday with a six off Imran, the latter returning to Test cricket after a two years absence. Aravinda batted 510 minutes, hitting 17 fours and three sixes; his stand of 121 with Ranatunga established a sixth-wicket national record against Pakistan. Miandad and Qasim Umar added 397 for the third wicket; the eighth highest stand in Test history and highest against Sri Lanka, and registered their third and second double century respectively. The second Test played in Sialkot. Jinnah Stadium provided Test cricket's 59th venue and Pakistan's 11th. Taking full advantage of a pitch, which encouraged seam bowling. Pakistan completed their victory on the fourth morning. In the last of his 78 Test appearance, Zaheer extended his aggregate to 5,062 runs (@44.79). Javed Miandad resigned the captaincy with effect from the end of this series 'to concentrate on his batting'. Pakistan completed their second decisive victory in succession before lunch on the fourth day at National Stadium, Karachi. Aravinda de Silva's second hundred took 265 minutes and was completed with his 16th four; a remarkable innings, it was achieved on a wicket where mere survival was often difficult. Imran took over the captaincy in the second innings after Miandad had hairline split to his right thumb while batting on the second day. On the fourth morning Pakistan, led by Mudassar after Imran had strained a thigh muscle soon after taking his 249th Test wicket. Play was halted for 20 minutes on the third day when spectators hurled fruits and other missiles on to the square. Wijesuriya (left-arm orthodox spin) overtook J.J. Warr as the most expensive wicket-taker in Test cricket: 1 for 294.