DUBAI: Off-spinner Saeed Ajmal took five wickets to steer Pakistan to a nine-wicket win in the second Test against Sri Lanka at Dubai Stadium, going 1-0 up in the three-match series.
The 34-year-old finished with five for 68 to help restrict Sri Lanka to 257 in their second-innings before Pakistan went about reaching their modest 94-run target to seal victory with a day to spare. Ajmal was ably supported by left-arm spin partner Abdur Rehman (two for 65) and paceman Junaid Khan (two for 38) as they exploited the spin and low bounce on a weary pitch to the best effect.
Pakistan lost Taufeeq Umar but Mohammad Hafeez (59) and Azhar Ali (29) scored the required runs inside 24.1 overs soon after the lights went on in the stadium. Ali took the winning single much to the delight of a 2,000 holiday crowd but it was Hafeez who hit five boundaries and two towering sixes to secure Pakistan’s win on the fourth day.
Pakistan captain Misbahul Haq praised the team effort.
“It was a thorough professional performance,” said Misbah, who has now won four of his nine Tests as captain, losing one and drawing the other four. “Our pacemen gave us the edge on the first day and we kept that pressure well.”
Misbah’s counterpart Tillakaratne Dilshan said his team needs to bat well.
“We batted poorly after winning the toss,” said Dilshan, yet to win a Test as captain in eight attempts. “Sangakkara’s wicket was the key and then Pakistan bowled well.”
Sri Lanka, who resumed at 88 for one, had been hoping for Sangakkara to stay longer and keep Pakistan at bay as he did in the second innings of the first Test when he scored an epic 211. But the batsman was reduced to adding just a single to his overnight score when he did not offer a stroke to Rehman’s incoming delivery and was adjudged leg-before. Mahela Jayawardene missed a sweep off Ajmal and was bowled and Dilshan’s horrible form in the series continued when he was trapped leg-before by Junaid three runs later.
Man of the Match Ajmal applauded a helping pitch.
“We thought of stopping the flow of runs, and then getting the wickets,” he said. “The captain told me to stay at the pitch when I was batting. The pitch was very good. For the first three days it was good for batting and after that we got bounce from it.”
The third and final Test starts in Sharjah from November 3.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 30th, 2011.
You can watch a slideshow of pictures from day four here.