Pakistan continued their less-than-satisfactory sojourn to Sri Lanka, falling to a massive 209-run defeat in the first Test at Galle. This turned out to be the tourists’ heaviest loss against the island nation in Test matches that follows on the heels of their One-Day International (ODI) series defeat. Pakistan found themselves on the back foot even before the contest commenced, taking the field without their regular captain Misbahul Haq — serving a one-match suspension due to the slow over-rate of the team during the final ODI — and clearly feeling his absence.
Superb centuries by Tillekaratne Dilshan and Kumara Sangakkara put Sri Lanka on their way to a huge first-innings total and despite a five-wicket haul by Saeed Ajmal, nothing Pakistan did could loosen the hosts’ stranglehold on the match. Pakistan’s problems were compounded by the highly ordinary umpiring, which calls into question the non-usage of the Decision Review System (DRS) during the series. It is high time that the International Cricket Council ignored the opposition the DRS faces and instituted measures to make its usage possible for all international matches.
However, notwithstanding the below-par umpiring or the disciplined Sri Lankan bowling, it is still difficult to justify the horror show put up by our batting line-up in the first-innings, as it was shot out for just 100. When our batsmen needed to put their heads down and occupy the crease, they failed abysmally, indicating the gaping hole that had opened up in the batting line-up in Misbah’s absence. An improved second-innings display was not enough to save the day, although Younus Khan showed why he is still Pakistan’s best Test batsman. Apart from the show put up by Ajmal and Younus, encouraging displays by Asad Shafiq, Junaid Khan and Adnan Akmal will provide some solace to Pakistan supporters as they hope for an improved performance in the second Test that starts on June 30 and which will also see the welcome return of Misbah to the team.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 27th, 2012.
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