Dubai: Pakistan are confident of staging a comeback to level the series in the day-night Test against Sri Lanka commencing at the Dubai International Stadium on Friday.
Azhar Ali, Pakistan’s No. 3 batsman, who scored a patient 85 in the first innings of the first Test in Abu Dhabi, said: “We have been disappointed and this is not the first time (that batting has collapsed). Teams stage comebacks, we did not have much to chase, but it was not easy to bat on the last day. We had the ability to chase that target. Unfortunately, we lost early wickets and could not recover — so there are lessons to be learnt which we will learn.”
Ali believes that all that was needed was one big innings. “Had one of us played a big knock in the first innings, we would have got a bigger score. We would have had a bigger total and so the biggest lesson is that when you have things under control, we should utilise that to the maximum.”
Sri Lanka batting coach Hashan Tillakaratne, who has played 83 Test matches for his country, said he was proud of his team which had managed to post 419 runs in hot conditions in the first innings of the first Test. “We had a good batting plan and all batsmen batted according to the strategy. There is no guarantee when you go out to bat that all batsmen can get a hundred or a fifty, but partnerships were very good. It was very pleasing to see [Dinesh] Chandimal getting a big score and Dimuth [Karunaratne] score 93 runs. [Niroshan] Dickwella too contributed.”
Ali also had a word of praise for Rangana Herath, who destroyed his team in the first Test. “This is a new team, so some of them were playing Herath for the first time. I have played him many times, but still I have got out six times to him. Sometimes we dominate him and the other times he dominates us — this goes on. When you have a plan, then he too adjusts and counters that plan. We had a plan like we did in 2015 when he got lesser wickets, but unfortunately he did better than us in first Test.”
When asked about the plan to chase in the fourth innings, Ali said: “In the fourth innings and on the final day whatever target you get, it’s not easy to chase. At lunch, we discussed how to play positive and not to get bogged down, but unfortunately we lost early wickets and naturally the momentum swung to the other side.”
Did Ali miss the pair of Misbah-ul Haq and Younis Khan in the first Test? “They had been consistent performers and since they are not there, I know my responsibility. I can’t be like them, but I will try to bat with youngsters and show them the way.”
Referring to absence of Misbah and Younis, Tillakaratne said: “Misbah and Younis were great servants of Pakistan cricket and we always respect them. I am sure there are enough good players and they [Pakistan] will find the right solution.”