Thursday, October 27, 2011

Catches Win Matches

The opening test in Abu Dhabi has concluded with a moral victory for the Sri Lankans who batted with utmost character, spirit and heart to prevent an embarrassing loss after being outplayed on the first 3 days by Misbah-ul-Haq's Pakistan team. The seasoned campaigner Kumar played a blinder at number 3 to notch up his 8th double century in an illustrious career. Since he has given up the gloves, his batting has gone from strength to strength. The 34 year old batted for 153 overs to ensure Pakistan did not have the necessary time they required in order to chase down the 4th innings target which was 170 from 21 overs in the end. Pakistan decided not go ahead with the chase and ensure safety in order to get the test match done and dusted with a draw and 2 tests to follow in Dubai and Sharjah (first test will be played there in 9 years). Maravan Attapatu, the Sri Lankan batting coach and past great would have been delighted with the "application" his batsmen displayed on show. It was the key phrase he mentioned to Tony Greig in his interview. The visitors battled with resilience, controlled game sense, gutsiness, clear mindset and a tight defence to see out the bowling and survive for lengthy periods and get out of jail from a disastrous position. The comeback would have done wonders for the camp knowing they can dig themselves out from a mammoth hole. The 3 day gap is an opportunity for both camps to regroup and reassesses as well as relax after a challenging 5 days in the scorching UAE sunshine. Dilshan mentioned his team will be watching the RWC final from Auckland between New Zealand and France on Sunday as their so called relaxation at the post match presentation ceremony where Kumar was awarded the player of the match award also. Misbah praised his batsmen and bowlers and vowed to work with the fielding. He defended his decision to close the game down rather than having a dart at the 9RPO target due to no fielding restrictions, day 5 rough, no leg side wides and so forth.


All the last 3 tests in the UAE have seen Pakistan bowl first with the match ending in comfortable draws.

Just like last November only 27 wickets fell in the test at Abu Dhabi.
3 double centurions in 2 tests in Abu Dhabi.

Only l loss in 8 tests for Misbah. Before he took over Pakistan lost 10 out of their last 15 all after the 2009 ICC WT20 euphoria.

Sri Lanka have drawn 4 out of 6 tests under Dilshan this year.

Saeed Ajmal needs one more wicket for 50 international wickets in the calendar year across all formats.

Azhar Ali has 4 50s in his last 5 completed innings (where he has been dismissed) ever since the St Kitts test match which was played in the latter half of May this year.

Both teams went two sessions without losing a wicket. Both teams saw their 2nd wicket stand do one of these sessions.

Umar Gul struck twice in the 3rd innings on the very first delivery with the new ball each time. Both times the batsmen was removed by an LBW with the new cherry and proud seam on the first delivery of the 1st and 81st over.

In comparison to Pakistan's 20 wickets. Sri Lanka could only manage 7. 2 of their pacers went without a wicket: Lakmal and the debutant and recent birthday boy Pradeep.

- The last time there was a test match in Dubai YK scored an unbeaten 4th innings century. This was also YKs last century at test level.

-Pakistan posted their highest 4th innings total in Dubai last year.

-Sangkarra and Jaya have the 4th highest run aggregate partnership in cricket history at an average of 50.

- Herath is the 3rd leading Sri Lankan wicket taker of all time at test level. He over took Lasith Malinga with the unlucky caught behind of Misbah in the first innings.

-4 current Pakistan players are in the top 13 averages test averages in the country's cricket history as things currently stand.

-Aizaz Cheema has taken his last 4/10 test wickets all caught behind by AA.

-In the last 12 tests Pakistan have had 4 of each result whereas Sri Lanka are still searching for their first win since Murali's retirement. It's been 12 tests since.

-The only result produced between Pakistan/Sri Lanka in neutral tests was the 1999 Asia Test Championship Final in Dhaka.

Taufeeq 9.5/10: The highest score by a Pakistan opener since 1992 was a record he achieved during this test match. Taufeeq has the 11th highest Pakistan test average of all time following his marathon 236 in the first innings where he spent 496 deliveries at the wicket to place Pakistan in a commanding position in this Abu Dhabi test match. He was knocked over cheaply in the 2nd innings for yet another LBW (5 in his last 9 innings) which is an area he'll need to address.

Hafeez: 4/10. Dropping catches on that surface was criminal. The professor was a letdown in the slip cordon and was having a nightmare. Additionally, he got through plenty of overs (31) without a wicket and when considering his previous first class appearance after his surgery which saw him miss the Faysal Bank Twnenty20, gave him a match winning tally of 11 wickets it was a disappointing return. He did score a first innings half century nonetheless as well as successfully seeing out the 10 overs in the final session on Saturday to earn the draw, but catches win matches and Hafeez was a disappointment in this aspect.

Azhar Ali: 8/10. He engaged in his 6th stand of 100 during the course of the test match to go along with 12 50 stands. The 160 2nd wicket partnership was a key contributor to Pakistan's grand total of 511/6 declared. Azhar should be able to reach 1000 test runs during the Dubai test match and should be targeting 300+ aggregate in this series with an average in the high 40s at least. Azhar also was involved in 3 second innings dismissals including taking his maiden test wicket with a beautifully pitched leg spinner which saw the end of Kumar.

YK: 5/10. It wasn't the most fluent first innings knock with a SR in the 30s and he missed out on a track where he was expected to score big. Nonetheless as always the man with the most catches by a fielder in Pakistan cricket history was active and involved with his fielding. He will be hoping to make it count in Dubai.

Misbah: 6/10. A superb counter attack in the first innings as well as a good decision to insert Sri Lanka into bat which worked extremely well. The pitch tends to flatten out in this part of the world as the game progresses. Whatever little assistance is available for the seamers is at the beginning. His lack of killer instinct in the 4th innings chase was debatable as was the fact that he was not fielding in the slip cordon, but by and large he should be pleased with the performances of the batters and bowlers. He will want to have a word with the fielders for sure. He will be backing himself to maintain the 2nd highest average by a captain in Dubai and for his team to put on a similar show, but with the catches held this time.

Asad Shafiq: 2/10. A bizarre knock in the circumstances and he has come under a lot of criticism, but due to the insecurities surrounding his place in a way it is understandable. Asad will want to put this behind him and prove a point or two to his critics. He definitely should be retained.

Adnan Akmal: 6/10. 6 dismissals. The catch in the first innings to remove Kumar was a blinder. He didn't get the chance to bat as Gul was promoted above him for the declaration. They sad when a keep is not being mentioned, he is doing a good job.

Umar Gul: 7/10. 6/101 were brilliant match figures on that particular surface. He struck at crucial times in the 2nd innings. Only criticism if any is he struggled to strike when it mattered in the opening hours of day 5 when Pakistan were pushing for victory and could have added a few with the bat as opposed to the duck he bagged. 19 wickets in 4 tests for Gul this year.

Junaid Khan: 10/10. He bowled his heart out in his 2nd test on a cruel venue for bowlers and if it wasn't for the diabolical catching he could have easily claimed a memorable 10 wicket match haul. He produced the ball of the test match in the first innings against the Sri Lankan wicket keeper. It was unplayable first up. You have to sympathise with him for all those chances which went down from his bowling. He produced the sparks and bowled with firepower and energy. He surely has cemented his place for the remainder of the series. Pakistan can take a lot of encouragement from his impressive showing.

Aizaz Cheema: 5/10. He put in the effort and gave it his all, but he was ineffective in the 2nd innings and struggled to back up the brilliance we witnessed in Bulawayo. Nevertheless, he bowled some excellent surprise deliveries which on another day could have easily got him many wickets. He did have trouble with his footing which seemed to disturb his rhythm and was warned twice. He may well be replaced in Dubai by Rehman or Wahab depending on the wicket.

Saeed Ajmal: 3/10. For a bowler of his class and calibre he struggled in the 2nd innings and failed to live up to expectations. He was economical in the first nevertheless. There is a possibility that Rehman might play in his position in the 2nd test. The ball he bowled to remove Jaya was a beauty though, it cut back sharply from a length. Nonetheless, credit to the Sri Lankans who played him well and did not allow him to settle. On batter friendly surfaces Ajmal has been a bowler who has suffered to get the results.


'Our fielding let us down' - Mohsin

Raja - Disappointed with Pakistan's lack of aggression

Misbah's words more positive than deeds - Kamran Abbasi

“Slip catching is all about confidence, just like batting. We are really looking forward to doing a lot of practice, and forget the fielding effort in the first match and just go out for a win,” said Misbah.

"Pakistan should go with two specialist spinners": Iqbal Qasim

"Pakistani Bowlers were Exceptional" - Mudassar Nazar

“I think it’s (draw) a huge advantage for us. We were well behind in the match and we survived and since this is a long series we have to come strongly in each match,” said Dilshan

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