Not many teams come to Sri Lanka and manage a win in spin fortress Galle.
Pakistan did just that and reversed the trend in the southern coastal town with a four-wicket win in the first test — with their fast bowlers contributing heavily — leaving the hosts fighting to level the two-test series.
The tourists surprised the Sri Lankans with their attacking batting. Even when 101-5 in the first innings, the batters kept going at five runs an over.
Speaking to reporters ahead of the second test starting Monday, Pakistan head coach Grant Bradburn said that Pakistan’s long-term target is to become the top-ranked team. Pakistan is currently ranked sixth and a 2-0 series win will help to close the ranks on fifth-place New Zealand.
“We want to keep improving our skills. We are growing all the time,” Bradburn said. “We want to be No. 1 in the world and to do that we want to have players in the Top 10 ranks for bowlers and batters. We are very happy with the way we played in Galle. Now that chapter is over. This venue is a different examination.”
Colombo’s Sinhalese Sports Club grounds will host the second test, and it’s a venue known as being batting-friendly.
Sri Lanka’s batters looked comfortable against spin so Pakistan will look at bolstering its pace attack. Both Naseem Shah and Shaheen Afridi troubled the Sri Lankans in the opener with extreme pace.
Sri Lanka head coach Chris Silverwood is demanding improvement in all three departments from his team after a disappointing show in Galle. Sri Lanka’s batting collapsed twice in the game and, if not for Dhananjaya de Silva’s 122 and 82, its batting would have fared much worse.
Sri Lanka’s seamers were ineffective while the spinners were wayward. Two dropped catches off Pakistan’s double centurion Saud Shakeel also proved to be costly as the hosts looked underprepared.
“There are certain areas I have pushed harder. We need to improve a few things and fielding is certainly one of those,” Silverwood said. “If you analyze the last test, we fell short in all three departments and we are seeking improvements moving forward.”
Seamer Asitha Fernando has been added to the squad and he is expected to feature in the game. Pakistan is likely to play an unchanged side.
Sri Lanka squad: Dimuth Karunaratne (captain), Nishan Madushka, Kusal Mendis, Angelo Mathews, Dinesh Chandimal, Dhananjaya de Silva, Sadeera Samarawickrama, Ramesh Mendis, Prabath Jayasuriya, Kasun Rajitha, Vishwa Fernando, Kamindu Mendis, Pathum Nissanka, Praveen Jayawickrama, Dilshan Madushanka, Lakshitha Manasinghe, Asitha Fernando.
Pakistan squad: Babar Azam (captain), Mohammad Rizwan, Aamer Jamal, Abdullah Shafique, Abrar Ahmed, Hasan Ali, Imam-ul-Haq, Mohammad Hurraira, Mohammad Nawaz, Naseem Shah, Noman Ali, Agha Salman, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Saud Shakeel, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Shan Masood.
Source: AP News