Friday, October 21, 2011

King Sanga's Century Brings SL Back In The Game

Mohammad Hafeez dropped 2 regulation chances in slip off the bowling from Junaid Khan in consecutive deliveries (the last ball of his previous over and then the very next delivery of his next over). On a placid track, you really have to make the most of what comes your way. These costly misses could come back to daunt the hosts on day 5 if they make it overly difficult for themselves or are unable to enforce a victory from the position of superiority they have got themselves into with a sizeable 314 first innings lead. It was bitterly disappointing for the left arm young pacer, who got the ball in the right areas, made it talk, found the edge and it was spilled not once BUT twice. It was literally unbelievable because generally Hafeez has a decent pair of hands. Also, to add to his woes he nearly dropped 1 in the first innings but managed to hold on in the 2nd or 3rd attempt.

Kumar Sangakkara’s artistry batting was on show. The former Sri Lankan captain stood up and played a blinder at number 3. His off side stroke play is as pleasing on the eye as it can be. His aggressive running to scamper those quick singles also helped him accumulate with fluency and take the pressure of his lesser experience opening partner who was dropped 2/2 as mentioned in the above paragraph. Kumar is always up for a challenge and he won’t give it away easily. He has a fine average against Pakistan and achieved plenty of success against them over the years. I wasn’t surprised a touch to see him perform here. The pitch was still playing well and he tends to step up when the going gets tough.

Further observations

Misbah-ul-Haq, Pakistan’s captain played a fluent counter attack yesterday and really accelerated the rate as well as injecting some impetus and momentum into the innings with a declaration in mind. Scoring 46 with a SR in the 90s including 4 fours and 1 mighty sixer from the left arm spin of Rangana “the low round arm workhorse” Hearth. He got a rough decision which prevented him from reaching yet another 50+ score as captain which he deserved with his intent and positivity.

Asad Shafiq played a strange hand considering the situation with an unbeaten 26 from over 90 deliveries with only 2 boundaries when the hosts were looking to up the ante, nonetheless with 511/6 on the board we shouldn’t be too fussed and complains about these minor events. Shafiq who was playing only his 6th test would have wanted to cement his place considering the competition he has from Umar Akmal who is currently captaining SNGPL in the ongoing QEA trophy with Misbah on national duty.

Mohammad Hafeez and Taufeeq Umar average 35 as an opening pair with 2 century stands since last November.

More About TAs 236......

Highest score by Pakistan batsmen since March 2009

2nd highest score by a Pakistan opener

Highest score by a Pakistan opener since Aamir Sohail’s double century in 1992. Aamir of course has highly rated and backed Taufeeq over the years and worked a great deal with him which seems to have paid off big time

4th Pakistan batsmen to spend 700 minutes at the crease in a test match after Hanif, YK and Shoaib Mohammad

He is now 5th in leading test run scorers this year and the highest from Pakistan over taking Misbah. He is behind the likes of Ian Bell, Cook, Dravid and KP who have all played 2 more tests in the calendar year thus far

He has the 7th highest crease occupation per innings per minutes in Pakistan’s proud batting history even prior to this test from Abu Dhabi

Looking ahead: The match is open and Sri Lanka has the potential to save this match if they bat over half the day or more like it up to tea. Pakistan is likely to have to bat again, but will not want to chase more than 150/200. Kumar is the key. As things currently stand Pakistan will be disappointed not to go on and win this, but still there is work to be done. Sri Lanka has had a top day 4 and is definitely still in it. Defeat is not inevitable for them. I would say it would be 53% Pakistan win/42% Sri Lanka draw/ 5% Sri Lanka win in terms of a proportional verdict. It's all set up for a fascinating final day from the Sheikh Zayed Stadium. King Sanga just does NOT looking like getting OUT. I won't be surprised to see Sri Lanka hold on here

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