Match Analysis

Loss exposes Pakistan frailties

It is hard to pin-point one single reason for Pakistan's capitulation in Dubai; there were many chinks in their armour

Umar Farooq
Umar Farooq
Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan have a drink, Pakistan v Sri Lanka, 2nd Test, Dubai, 3rd day, January 10, 2014

Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan continue to shoulder the burden of scoring runs  •  AFP

Pakistan entered day five amid prediction of heavy rain in Dubai and although thick clouds prevailed over the stadium all day, the rain never came down. Pakistan may have considered themselves unfortunate, but they were out-batted and out-bowled by an efficient Sri Lankan team that beat them by nine wickets - their biggest win in terms of wickets, against Pakistan. The home team may have walked out with positives after the draw in Abu Dhabi, however, the loss in Dubai, once again, exposed a number of chinks in the Pakistan team.
Top-order conundrum
Pakistan's top order was praised for their contribution in the first Test but their failure in the second means the team will have to take a fresh look at their options. The No. 3 position remains a talking point after Mohammad Hafeez, drafted back into the Test side after a stellar run in the ODIs, couldn't reprise the same form, scoring 21 and 1 in the second Test. Ahmed Shehzad's introduction as an opener didn't work either; the move disturbed the left-right combination of Khurram Manzoor and Shan Masood which had set-up Pakistan's win against South Africa in Abu Dhabi in November.
Middle-order frailties
Pakistan's over-reliance on Younis Khan and Misbah-ul-Haq is no secret and it's high time other batsmen started delivering. The technically sound Asad Shafiq, who scored a century against South Africa at the same venue three months back, has been struggling since. Though he played some elegant back-foot shots on the fourth day, he wasn't able to stay for an extended period; he contributed 6 and 23.
The overworked workhorse
Saeed Ajmal has toiled for 114.2 overs in the two Tests in this series and conceded 248 runs. On top of the workload, he also took a blow on his foot while batting in the second innings. It can be argued that Sri Lanka batsmen played him with caution and neutralised him well, but he did look off-colour with his line and length.
The ineffective seamer
Rahat Ali, who went into the series as the second seamer, failed to make an impact in the two Tests. His inability to pick up wickets was excused by the captain, the coach and the team manager, who suggested the bowler had been unlucky. But for someone who bowled more than 100 overs in the series for just two wickets, it can't be just about luck. It also points to the lack of skill.
The flat tenure
Dav Whatmore's tenure as the coach of Pakistan is soon coming to an end; he is with the team for another nine days. In the two years with Whatmore at the helm, Pakistan didn't show any signs of improvement and failed to win a single Test series. The record will leave a blot on Whatmore's coaching credentials.

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