Historic Test Chase Total for Pakistan

By Parvez Fatteh, Founder of http://sportingummah.com, sports@muslimobserver.com

512px-PakistancricketBoard-logo.svgThe Pakistani national cricket team reaching their second highest chase target run total in a test match, as they achieved the target of 302 runs to win in 59 overs over Sri Lanka. Their successful chase can largely be attributed to Azhar Ali’s fifth Test century (103) as he and Misbah-ul-Haq shared a 109-run stand for the fifth wicket. Misbah himself finished with 68 not out, hitting the winning single with just nine balls to spare. This was the third test match in the series with Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka had won the second Test in Dubai by nine wickets while the first Test ended in a draw in Abu Dhabi.

Things were looking grim for Pakistan with the score 107-3 at tea. They ended needing 195 runs in the last 35 overs. Ali was actually kept on the bench for the first two test matches. He was able to reach his hundred off of 133 balls, including six boundaries. He stepped up the pace during a rapid 89-run partnership in 14.5 overs with Sarfraz Ahmed (48) which left Sri Lanka on the defensive.

Even when Sarfraz was out, caught behind off paceman Shaminda Eranga, Pakistan needed 116. Sarfraz hit four boundaries and a six off 46 balls, with additional support from Misbah. Needing to score at a rate of more than five an over to win, Pakistan were given a rapid 35-run start by the sixth over but paceman Suranga Lakmal (3-79) halted that progress by dismissing openers Shehzad and Manzoor within 13 runs. Younis Khan tried to increase the pace before being caught off Angelo Mathews two overs before tea, but the scenario changed in the last session.

Pakistan’s highest chase total was the 314 they chased against Australia in Karachi in 1994. With this series tied, Pakistan also remained unbeaten in five series in the United Arab Emirates, which has become their home since security fears — sparked in the wake of attacks on the Sri Lankan team bus in Lahore in 2009 — forced them to play at neutral venues. They twice drew series with South Africa (2010 and 2013) and beat Sri Lanka (2011) and England (2012).

Sri Lankan captain Angelo Mathews lamented his team’s batting failure. “We dominated for three-and-a-half days but unfortunately could not score big in the second innings and lost,” said Mathews, declared man-of-the-series for his 412 runs in three Tests.

Earlier, Sri Lanka were bowled out for 214 in their second innings, with left-arm spinner Abdul Rehman finishing with 4-56 and off-spinner Saeed Ajmal taking 3-53, but not before their batsmen had kept Pakistan at bay on the morning of the fifth and final day.

On an exciting day when both teams had a chance of victory, Mathews (31) and Prasanna Jayawardene (49) shared a 62-run stand for the sixth wicket and batted positively to add 56 in the first hour after the tourists resumed at 133-5. But Mohammad Talha gave Pakistan their much-needed breakthrough when he had Mathews caught off a miscued hook.

Rehman then grabbed two quick wickets to put the brakes on Sri Lanka, having Dilruwan Perera caught at short-leg for eight before removing Rangana Herath for a first-ball duck. Herath recorded a golden pair in the match as he was also dismissed first ball in the first innings. Prasanna hit six boundaries in his 88-ball knock before he was dismissed by Ajmal, who also removed Shaminda Eranga to wrap up the innings.

Misbah said Pakistan desperately wanted the win. “That was really a much wanted win. We wanted the win it for our coach Dav Whatmore and wanted to give him a winning farewell,” said Misbah of the team coach,  with this match officially marking the end of Whatmore’s two-year tenure as the team’s coach.


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