Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Abdullah spearheads Pakistan's run-chase against Sri Lanka in first Test

Abdullah spearheads Pakistan's run-chase against Sri Lanka in first Test
July 19, 2022 Web Desk

GALLE (92 News) - Pakistan demonstrated their comeback qualities as well as the ability to play quality spin bowling as they slowly but methodically edged towards achieving their second highest-run chase in Test cricket.

Chasing 342 runs for victory in the first Test on a spinners’ friendly Galle surface, Pakistan were 222 for three at the close of play on the fourth day and needed another 120 runs to take a 1-0 lead in the two-Test series.

22-year-old Abdullah Shafique, playing just his sixth Test match, was leading Pakistan’s charge when he was unconquered on 112. With him was vice-captain Mohammad Rizwan on seven, who had walked into bat six overs before stumps after captain Babar Azam missed the line of the ball and was bowled round his legs after scoring 55.

Babar, who had scored 119 runs in the first innings and became the 19th Pakistan batter to complete 3,000 Test runs when he reached 30, put on 101 runs for the third wicket with Abdullah. Babar’s 104-ball innings was studded with four fours and a six.

Left-arm spinner Prabath Jayasuriya, who had claimed 17 wickets in the three innings before Pakistan’s run-chase, picked up the wickets of Azhar Ali (six) and Babar Azam, but was made to toil on a surface of his liking when he ended the day with figures of 35-6-89-2.

Opener Imam-ul-Haq was unlucky and unfortunate to be stumped off Ramesh Mendis when his foot was fractionally in the air. The left-hander was looking solid and comfortable in his 73-ball 35 as he added 87 runs for the first wicket with Abdullah.

The star of the fourth day’s play was young Abdullah who was a model of concentration and application, and in the process displayed excellent technique and good shot selection against Sri Lanka’s slow bowlers on a deteriorating surface.

Abdullah, a former Pakistan under-19 batter, had faced 289 balls for his 112 not out and struck five fours and a six. The Sialkot-born opener had reached his half-century from 94 balls with four fours, while his second 50 runs came off 114 balls and included a four and a straight six off Jayasuriya.

Since making his debut against Bangladesh in Chattogram, the opener has scores of 52, 73, 25, 44, 136 not out, 13, 96, 81, 27, 13 and 112 not out which not only reflects his consistency but also ability to adjust and adapt to different batting conditions against three different oppositions in Bangladesh, Australia and Sri Lanka.

Interestingly, when Pakistan achieved their highest run-chase of 377 against Sri Lanka in Pallekele 2015, veteran Younis Khan had scored an unbeaten 171, while a young Shan Masood, playing his ninth Test, had scored 125.

Abdullah has a chance to emulate Shan and further enhance his reputation as a world-class batter if he can continue to lead Pakistan from the front and earn Pakistan a come-from-behind victory on a surface that is fully testing the skills, temperament and technique of the batters.

Abdullah will require complete support from the middle and lower middle-order that may not have the same experience as Misbah-ul-Haq’s side from the 2015 Test. But where there is will, there is a way and Abdullah has demonstrated that victory is possible only if each and every delivery is played on its merit and no opportunity is wasted in keeping the scoreboard moving.

Earlier, Sri Lanka resumed their second innings at 329 for nine and were dismissed for 337. Dinesh Chandimal added eight runs to his overnight score of 86 and returned unbeaten on 94. Jayasuriya was the last man out when he fell to Naseem Shah.

Scores in brief:

Sri Lanka 222, 66.1 overs (Dinesh Chandimal 76, Maheesh Theekshana 38; Shaheen Shah Afridi 4-58, Hasan Ali 2-23) and 337, 100 overs (Dinesh Chandimal 94 not out, Kusal Mendis 76, Oshada Fernando 64; Mohammad Nawaz 5-88, Yasir Shah 3-122)

Pakistan 218, 90.5 overs (Babar Azam 119; Prabath Jayasuriya 5-82, Ramesh Mendis 2-18) and 222-3, 85 overs (Abdullah Shafique 112 not out, Babar Azam 55, Imam-ul-Haq 35; Prabath Jayasuriya 2-89).